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It’s not still the early days of blockchain

512 points21 hoursblog.mollywhite.net
rsanheim19 hours ago

I'm increasingly seeing "web 3.0" as basically a two headed beast:

1) a way to part greater fools from their money until the hype has died out

2) a hot topic to drive clicks and discussions for nerds and, increasingly, the tech press, from other more pressing issues that exist in terms of tech and culture and finance

In other words, its a bullshit scam, can we please move on already?

heurist19 hours ago

It's a way to authenticate yourself without a centralized authority. So right now it's being used to create exclusive communities, access to which theoretically has some value. In the future, there may be application ecosystems which operate solely against your wallet information, no need for registration. Maybe that has some value too - time will tell.

I don't follow the details of the web3 market closely, so not speaking in support or against here.

rsanheim19 hours ago

We've had "auth without centralized authority" for decades, and 99% of people don't care and won't deal with the hassle involved. see PGP, encrypted email, OpenID, etc etc..

The exclusive communities you mention only have value because of the hype and FOMO and high dollar amounts that people see being made on sales of "exclusive" NFTs or some such. Same as many of the many crypto pumps, same as the dotcom bubble, same as tulips. Same as it ever was.

yata6942018 hours ago

> see PGP, encrypted email, OpenID, etc etc..

Yeah, but this actually works.

Like it or not, people are already using their wallets as their username. And they're trading cryptographic assets. And everyone can see it because it's public.

This isn't theoretical.

I've been to PGP key-signing parties. I can assure you that this is not that.

lukeschlather8 hours ago

> Yeah, but this actually works.

I can't use blockchain to pay pretty much any vendor I buy things from without an intermediary - the intermediary requires me to log in to a website and unless I'm willing to go through a lot of trouble (more trouble than dealing with PGP) an intermediary will also be storing my wallet and have "physical" control of all my "coins." Blockchain works to the extent that you aren't really using blockchain but simply a trusted intermediary.

If you're actually personally managing your wallet keys it's worse than PGP. With PGP if you lose your key you just say so and people figure it out, you have to go to some key signing parties. With Bitcoin if you lose your key you have no money, end of story, no recourse.

+1
usrbinbash17 hours ago
ique18 hours ago

Most people don't care about X, so clearly anyone trying to build a product to address X is just a scam.

wahnfrieden14 hours ago

those are ideas on a shelf. even stackexchange dropped openid years ago

Shish2k19 hours ago

> It's a way to authenticate yourself without a centralized authority

PGP did that 31 years ago though, faster and more efficient and without all the downsides?

adgjlsfhk118 hours ago

inefficiency here can actually be useful, it's similar to password stretching. If you know someone had to burn $10 of electricity to make an authentication, it hurts more to get banned.

usrbinbash17 hours ago

> inefficiency here can actually be useful

Except for the tons of CO2 that get pumped into the atmosphere in the process, or the blackouts its causes, or the fact that there are tons of more useful applications for that energy, like heating homes, running air conditioning, charging electric vehicles ...

lawtalkinghuman9 hours ago

> If you know someone had to burn $10 of electricity to make an authentication, it hurts more to get banned.

Metafilter charges $5 to get an account. If you can't afford the $5, you can email the mods to join for free.

SomethingAwful charges $10 (and offers a platinum account, and a paid add-on to view old threads).

Both of these payments are done through PayPal, and both exist as a way to filter spammers and trolls.

I thought the whole point of decentralisation was that you couldn't be banned though.

usrbinbash18 hours ago

> It's a way to authenticate yourself without a centralized authority.

I do that without any involvement of a blorkchain on a daily basis. Everytime I use my ssh key to connect to a server that knows my public key.

galaxyLogic18 hours ago

I would like to create an online application which people could use by paying for its usage in bitcoin.

I assume it would make the application much simpler because there would not need to be any or very little user-account management, no sending bills or charging credit-cards. Just gimme them bitcoins. The user-state could be stored on the client-machine, unless they especially want to pay for us backing it up on the cloud. Still it could be backed up anonymously, identified by the wallet.

No more hacking, if there were no user-accounts or passwords there would be nothing to hack.

tsimionescu18 hours ago

How do you inagine "giving you bitcoins" will work without you doing something equivalent to sending bills or charging credit cards?

Sure, you can publish your wallet address and tell them to send you money. How do you give them access to your content after they have sent their money? How is Bitcoin helping compared to you publishing your IBAN account number and asking for money to be sent directly there?

+3
galaxyLogic17 hours ago
che_shirecat9 hours ago

this is the whole point of Ethereum and smart contracts.

laurent9218 hours ago

When I was a young engineer in 2006, the marketing about Web 2.0 was in every tender for IT projects, so much that my boss created the “Web 4.3 dev community” in my city to point out the ridiculousness of it.

Every versioning of that idea is marketing speech.

zwkrt5 hours ago

Web 2.0 and 3.0 are not directly comparable just because they have similar names, a fallacy of equivocation.

Web2.0 might have had a silly name, but the idea of the web as something that the average user and company could contribute back to and use to communicate with in real time provided explicit value and convenience over existing alternatives (letter writing, door-to-door sales, in-person self-promotion, calling a pizza parlor, renting a physical video, long distance phone calls, physical plane tickets mailed to your house…)

I don’t see that with web3.0.

freemanon19 hours ago

i suggest learning it properly before jumping to conclusions. everything has pros and cons. e.g. cars pollute but would you want to go back to riding horses? judge less, learn more

mikeg819 hours ago

This is always the defense: “you obviously don’t understand it”. Or, maybe there is a good reason this type of article pops to the top of HN every other day. The skeptics have good reason to doubt the viability of all the hype.

freemanon16 hours ago

is calling out oversimplifcation is also oversimplifying? i'm not arguing that there is no good reason to be sceptic, i'm calling out against forming a strong opinion strongly held on little understanding

dmingod66619 hours ago

Read the article by moxie on NFTs. It is so poorly designed that a jr JavaScript developer with 6 months experience would be ashamed of it. Don't "Go-and-lean" us. We are technology people here not your non-tech crowd that'll get scared and silenced by "go and learn"

freemanon15 hours ago

there is no arguing that the world of crypto is full of scams. just like the internet. we can learn and adopt new technologies while keeping down its externalities by understanding the pros and cons, not by slapping overgeneralised labels of "good" or "bad" on everything to cover for the lack of rounded understanding

rsanheim19 hours ago

I actually would prefer riding horses if it were feasible and safe in my community, thank you very much =).

I've learned enough at this point to know a scam when I see one, and I definitely don't need to go thru my history w/ software and tech bubbles and cryptocurrencies to explain why web 3.0 is full-on bullshit.

rambambram15 hours ago

I like your reasoning here and in other comments. Please consider adding an RSS feed to your blog, I want to subscribe to it in Web 1.1 style.

freemanon16 hours ago

well i guess it's simpler to live with fast and decisive conclusions to new information. personally i try to manage my prejudice and keep giving chances for someone or a new piece of information to change my mind, in case i have the wrong understanding

jakupovic14 hours ago

Oh wise one can you tell us more? We're dying to learn from the smart ones who can tell based on their past what the future holds. Or maybe you don't know, which is true, since none can predict future. Therefore you're talking out of your ... and not contributing to the conversation. Now you can say that I'm not contributing either, but it has the same place as your statement...

ryandamm19 hours ago

I've yet to see a "pro" for blockchain or NFTs that doesn't conform to the characterization you're trying to dispute. Care to offer one? I'm eager to learn.

magicjosh19 hours ago

I also want a writeup covering some examples of Bitcoin or Ethereum use that are relatable.

This recent NYTimes piece takes that approach, though none of the examples are that impressive: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/03/style/what-can-you-actual...

(Disclosure I own Bitcoin and Ethereum)

+2
freemanon15 hours ago
mohanmcgeek19 hours ago

I see more and more of this attitude these days: "Stop spreading disinformation. Educate yourself"

A useful contribution would be to point out how exactly the GP is wrong.

I can imagine the current international banking system get upgraded with a blockchain like technology such that you don't need a central bank of central banks.

But the web3 guys simply want to compare detractors to luddites

freemanon15 hours ago

my argument isn't that the GP's information is wrong per se, but that gross oversimplification through slapping labels like "scam" and "bullshit" against the merits of a technology is blind, just as blind as people who worship the blockchain.

my argument is for us to make our cases in an enlightened and civilised way instead of calling out names

koonsolo6 hours ago

It's funny how HN is negative towards crypto and web3 (see all upvoted articles on the topic, and related comments). Yet can't seem to stop talking about it.

I get it, you don't like it.

So I agree with your last point: let's all please move on.

krapp6 hours ago

>let's all please move on.

We don't do that here.

systemvoltage5 hours ago

I’m pretty much convinced that crypto stuff is a scam. Still, I want to question the mob. We only get better understanding, doesn’t take anything away.

I like hashing things out but whenever there is a huge bandwagon effect, I am increasingly getting more skeptical. Happy to be wrong but we need skeptics that question mob mentality.

There are several recent examples of this: 1) Inflation 2) COVID origins (Lab leak) 3) Zero-COVID policies and lockdowns.

I always question these things - what if we are wrong?

poof13119 hours ago

A few months ago I agreed with her entirely. Tether is an unbacked fraud and NFTs are being front-run [1, 2]. The mid-level marketing Ponzi vibe is crazy. The latency of applications on the blockchain is atrocious. But more recently after learning from and interacting with people building in the space my assessment changed. There is an interesting intersection between tech, communities, and economics. There exists a transparency in the open-source code of smart contracts that will disrupt the current gatekeepers like the internet did.

Certainly, there are problems, but some things will live beyond the crash that is coming and change things in ways no one can be sure of. The internet started in the 1960s and was opened up commercially in 1989.[3] It feels like we are somewhere between 1995 and 2000. The energy feels similar with people trying to shove old paradigms into a new world, vaporware companies, and insane investments. I don’t think we’ve seen the top and it will likely make the crash of 2001 look small by comparison. I may be wrong, but if I’m not, it still is early.

[1] https://bitfinexed.medium.com/tether-is-setting-a-new-standa... [2] https://twitter.com/Foone/status/1457749433844568066 [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Internet

saalweachter13 hours ago

I'm sorry, I'm not trying to call you out personally, but this is itching my brain something fierce so I have to blurt it out, and hey, it's the internet. A little derailing never hurt anyone.

It's amazing to me how universal the "I used to be a non-believer" line is in evangelism. From the classic "I used to be an atheist but I've been born again" to all the members of political party A claiming to have been a member of party B before seeing the light to technological evangelism.

It just jumps out at you after awhile.

mw8889 hours ago

That’s a nice little Kafka trap you’ve constructed to disregard the people who change their minds away from what you think. So every time someone changes their mind and uses their previous opinion as informative you are going to non-committally imply it’s “evangelism?”

saalweachter7 hours ago

It's not really a trap -- it's more a rhetorical tactic.

The trick is that when you say "I used to believe X, but now I've realized I was wrong and believe Y", you can get away without giving evidence for why X was wrong and Y is right. You appeal to a commonality between you and your audience (your audience believes X, you used to believe X) and by presenting your change you imply that they are being left behind, that they have missed something you have seen.

It's such an effective rhetorical tactic that speakers will sometimes make up a conversion experience to use in their evangelism, even if they have always been a member of the faith.

There's nothing wrong with changing your mind, with adapting to new evidence. But you shouldn't confuse someone's declaration that they have changed their mind with evidence for the position they have adopted; that's where logic and rhetoric diverge.

(And again, I'm not trying to start something with the GP; I am fascinated by the universal utility of the rhetorical device more than this specific case.)

samhw1 hour ago

Thank you for writing this: it crystallises something that’s always annoyed me about the trope-ridden evangelist shtick. You’re absolutely right.

Sholmesy7 hours ago

S/he's not disregarding the people who change their mind, he's pointing out the emptiness the trope of "I use to be X, so I know what it's like".

Changing one's mind should be encouraged.

hooande8 hours ago

stating that you used to be a non believer isn't necessary. he could have made all those points about blockchain without that piece of information. the GP's point is that the decision to add it is worthy of suspicion

z3c08 hours ago

Seems like a reworking of the "everybody has an agenda" retort you see so often these days. It's a slippery slope that only leads to dying a curmudgeon, as all chances for new perspectives were rebuked as agendas/evangelism/propagandist/etc.

antifa5 hours ago

Or, it's a slippery slope that only leads to keeping all your BTC/ETH and missing out on what getting scammed 20 times a year feels like.

TomSwirly6 hours ago

If the comment gave any actual reasoning, it wouldn't be open to that criticism, but as it is, it's empty hype which deserves all the criticism it gets.

throwaway98700k13 hours ago

It’s a dangerous attitude because it has a paternal edge to it. Any “enlightenment” naturally leads to seeing others as unenlightened.

nyolfen8 hours ago

it is dangerous to say that you have changed your mind about something?

mahogany9 hours ago

Alternatively, what if they simply learned something new which caused them to change their belief in something? It's better to focus on what caused their mind to be changed (it may or may not be bunk) versus focusing on the fact that their mind changed at all (which can certainly be a good thing).

antifa3 hours ago

> what if they simply learned something new which caused them to change their belief in something?

Then they would have shared that, instead what we got was indistinguishable from "some charismatic people dupped me and/or I'm in on the scamming now."

tomxor8 hours ago

The parent's perspective does not come across as an evangelist's though. Quite the opposite. It's balanced, seeing the hype for hype, seeing the flaws, and yet seeing that there is still some truth and potential buried in there. The world is grey.

floodyberry-5 hours ago

There was no substantial justification given for changing their opinion. IF it was an honest post, it was entirely unconvincing

TomSwirly6 hours ago

> seeing the flaws,

The article names none.

> yet seeing that there is still some truth and potential buried in there.

The article details none.

> The world is grey.

"Everything is true, even false things!"

mattdesl12 hours ago

it goes both ways – "I used to be religious, now I am an atheist"

(I was also against crypto/blockchains when I first learned about them last year)

antifa3 hours ago

It really doesn't go both ways.

It's "I didn't find any evidence for God, so I stopped believing." vs "I believe God is real but I can't prove it".

When somebody is telling me they think God is real, they're trying to sell me something, or they think it's important to tell me.

When I tell people I'm an atheist, I probably didn't want to have to tell anyone, and I genuinely don't care what you believe unless you're using it to hurt others.

+1
mattdesl3 hours ago
mrelectric12 hours ago

As usual, truth is somewhere in the middle.

samhw1 hour ago
edem12 hours ago

What are you even talking about?

lumost7 hours ago

You know, it's funny. I've worked in and around analytics for a long time now, and I've had the thought that blockchain enables the following.

1) A common "universal" transaction data source

2) A shared, readable format

So the thought occurred to me that as soon as blockchain apps/currencies became popular, people would want analytics on them. There would thus be a startup opportunity for unprecedented analytics visibility into transactional data from a third party without needing to build bespoke integrations into high security/compliance systems.

If a blockchain backed currency was widely used, a third party could easily estimate the real-time sales flow of every brick and mortar store location. You could have real-time auditing and quarterly tracking of both public and private corporations available from a third party. Asset transfers, smart contracts, and their real world equivalents could be instantly monitored - allowing the early detection of emergent supply chain bottlenecks.

The problem with all of this is that in the 5 years since I had this idea, the only use cases for BTC and other cryptos has been price speculation. The market for such analytics products is effectively zero.

big_youth7 hours ago

Blockchain analytics are a big sector. Companies like Coinbase and Binance have spent billions acquiring blockchain analytics firms.

Additionally, I think there is big money in selling blockchain analytics to governments for the money laundering, darknet markets, and fraud sector.

https://www.coindesk.com/markets/2019/02/19/coinbase-acquire...

https://www.coindesk.com/business/2021/04/30/coinbase-to-acq...

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/09/mastercard-to-buy-blockchain...

https://www.coindesk.com/markets/2019/12/03/binance-acquires...

ptx2 hours ago

Making all their real-time sales data public, and thus available to their competitors, doesn't seem like something most companies would want.

If the blockchain does enable this, wouldn't that just lead either to 1) companies not adopting blockchain, or 2) some solution for hiding the data and defeating third-party analytics?

floodyberry-5 hours ago

There is no future in third party analytics because any "blockchain" that is globally adopted and used for more than shitcoin speculation will be zero knowledge

samhw1 hour ago

What do you mean, “will be zero knowledge”? How does that apply to a blockchain in a currency context, when validating a new transaction requires knowledge of both parties’ transaction history?

jcbrand7 hours ago

You were right, blockchain analytics was a great startup opportunity and there are already a bunch of companies, like Glassnode, doing blockchain analytics.

You also seem to be missing a lot of interesting stuff happening with cryptos if you think it's exclusively price speculation.

lumost6 hours ago

GlassNode's tagline is "Time crypto market tops and bottoms.", I don't doubt that simply analyzing the exchanges is a valid market. But not one that I think is particularly large, particularly not when the exchanges can add their own analytics at any point.

doktorhladnjak4 hours ago

The big question in my mind: is this the internet in 1997 or expert systems in 1982? It could be the next big thing. Or it could be an interesting idea that was oversold and overhyped, that never really disappeared but became irrelevant as its real value became a commodity that found its way into the software of established companies.

samhw1 hour ago

The worrying thing (for me) isn’t which one it is. The worrying thing is that so many people seem incapable of even making a creditable attempt at answering that question and analysing its fundamentals. This has opened my eyes to how many people only think through the prism of “well, this has got really popular lately, and the internet did that too, so this will be the next big thing even if I don’t know why!”. Survivorship bias is very very real.

crehn19 hours ago

> There exists a transparency in the open-source code of smart contracts that will disrupt the current gatekeepers like the internet did.

Could you elaborate which gatekeepers it will disrupt?

unityByFreedom18 hours ago

IMO social media needs competition but I don't think it will be disrupted by blockchain or decentralization. It will be disrupted by a continued pursuit of competition by doing things like supporting net neutrality. That keeps the playing field level and prevents current big players from becoming further entrenched. Big tech's monopolies are encouraged by lower-level-monopolies owned by Comcast and the other internet media conglomerates. To solve the problems higher in the tree we should get at the roots.

tim33311 hours ago

It is somewhat disruptive to banks. You can invest stable coins and get interest for example which is higher than bank interest. And the operator doesn't need to spend a fortune applying for banking licenses for each country they operate in.

doomrobo8 hours ago

Absolutely not. The reason bank interest is lower is because the FDIC ensures that you get your money if the bank stops existing. If the company backing your stablecoin stops existing, what are you left with? Nothing, of course

This not disruptive. This is just normal investing with all the risks attached

tim3332 hours ago

According to Nexo "Disrupting the financial system, one bit at a time." they have 3 million users on their saving platform. (https://nexo.io/about-us). I haven't used them and am not recommending them but there seems to be something going on there.

+1
bufferoverflow7 hours ago
ahtihn8 hours ago

Try looking into why these investments have higher returns than a bank account. The risk profile isn't the same at all.

If you want returns in traditional finance, you don't stick money in a bank account. You buy bonds and/or stocks.

cuteboy197 hours ago

You say this on a thread that confirms Tether to be an unmitigated fraud. How and why are we supposed to trust in USDC, USDP and all the other permutations of USD to not be frauds themselves. It is easy to give a 10% return when all your really doing is offering unbacked IOUs

benreesman19 hours ago

I have wondered for awhile why the crypto mega-whales in my vicinity are trading USDT at par or better over the last year or two.

My conspiracy theory is that when insiders trade a distressed asset at par or better it’s often a bailout expectation that’s really being traded.

Who has unimaginable access to financing, a “stablecoin” going so/so, and a primary line of business critically dependent on Tether, like, I don’t know, a massive exchange with the highest volume pairs all sharing USDT as quote?

oneoff7867 hours ago

It’s not that hard. When Bitcoin goes down, people like tether because it’s “safe” at $1. So bitfinex makes more tethers and trades them for bitcoins. When Bitcoin goes up, bitfinex sells the Bitcoin and gets dollars.

It’s fractional reserve banking swapped around, with no reserve requirements. The market is the bank.

And because bitfinex is not obligated to redeems tokens for $1 they have no risk. It’s in their interest to keep the market price at $1 because the longer it runs the more money they make but if there’s a run on the currency they can just shrug and go home with their bag of dollars.

ricardobeat6 hours ago

This is like giving central-bank levels of power to private entities. Which obviously follow from de-centralization. It’s insane.

The only way this could be a reliable replacement for our existing financial systems, would be with strong oversight from.. some kind of central entity that acts on behalf of society’s collective best interests.. staffed by people chosen through popular voting..

tim33311 hours ago

The price of things like USDT are effectively set by Tether rather than the free market. If Tether have billions of US$ and offer in the market to buy back USDT at 1:1 then that's what they price will be near enough.

bb8818 hours ago

What you've described is metastasized moral risk. We could argue that maybe some risk should be rewarded. But not all risk, such as spending billions in beanie babies as a corporate strategy.

benreesman16 hours ago

Eh, there are some important distinctions here. Pricing risk is an activity with fairly clear value, and as a result you can make a ton of money by being good at it. Assuming risk is something that every individual and organization does to one degree or another, and to the extent that they do so in a rational way it’s because they are pricing risk well or delegating that.

Your use of the word moral makes me think that you might be talking about shifting risk off onto others. Keeping the upside in some more favorable ratio to handing others the downside is (IMHO) immoral but also one of two main ways that people get rich, the other being inheritance.

delaaxe17 hours ago

I mean Binance has BUSD no?

olalonde17 hours ago

> A few months ago I agreed with her entirely. Tether is an unbacked fraud and NFTs are being front-run [1, 2]. The mid-level marketing Ponzi vibe is crazy. The latency of applications on the blockchain is atrocious. But more recently after learning from and interacting with people building in the space my assessment changed.

I feel like a lot of the cryptocurrency critics commit the "fallacy fallacy". That is, they have the following reasoning: people believe crypto is good because of X, X is false, therefore crypto is not good.

Yes, there are a lot of people who are into crypto because they think it's a way to get rich quick. Yes, there are a lot of guru technical analysts who sell bullshit dreams on their Youtube channels. Yes, there are a lot of criminals who use cryptocurrency. Yes, crypto attracts a lot of charlatans and snake oil men. Yes, there are a lot unbacked stablecoins and shitcoins.

Given the above, it's easy to dismiss all cryptocurrencies as a scam. But when you dig a bit deeper, you'll find that there is true technical and financial innovation. For me, Bitcoin's potential to be a programmable money without government or central authority is a very powerful idea. The idea that you can be your own bank and do p2p electronic money transfers without an intermediary. That has never been possible before.

I could go on but my point is that even if there are many wrong reasons people like X, it doesn't necessarily mean that X is wrong/bad.

slg7 hours ago

>But when you dig a bit deeper, you'll find that there is true technical and financial innovation.

I will give you the technical innovation, but I really have not found anything financially innovative about cryptocurrency. What does crypto do that traditional currencies or payments systems don't? The only thing I see is that it largely replaces the old financial elite with a new financial elite and maybe under the right circumstances reduces fees for transferring money. That seems to be it unless you count circumventing financial regulation as a financial innovation.

meowkit7 hours ago

Seems unnecessary to nitpick innovation between the disciplines.

The technology enables many new tools to be developed and many old tools to be augmented. Saule Omarova (Biden’s comptroller pick who resigned) had some interesting ideas in her papers/essays. DLT-based deposit debtor accounts being offered by the government was one that I thought would be pretty great.

slg7 hours ago

>Seems unnecessary to nitpick innovation between the disciplines.

Cool technology has no value if all it is is cool technology. The important question is whether it enables something that wasn't possible before that technology. I have not seen a convincing example in which crypto does that.

>DLT-based deposit debtor accounts being offered by the government was one that I thought would be pretty great.

For example, how is this improved by using a distributed ledger here especially considering that this program would already be centralized by the government?

WA11 hours ago

Nah, it’s like this: people believe crypto is good because of X, Y, Z, A, B and C. All of them are false, except for C in some odd circumstances. Therefore, the current state of crypto is not good.

gitfan8613 hours ago

No one should be suggesting that 100% of crypto is a scam and that there will never be anything useful in the crypto space. Vitalik seems the be operating with best of intentions and IMO the threat of decentralized money has already effected the central banks in their thoughts around inflation.

My main problem is similar to the original article here. In 2014 Bitcoin was "The future of micropayments" 6 years later and now the narrative is that "Layer 2 networks are the future" It would be great if the crypto people could stop talking about how great the future will be and just deliver what they are promising

nly15 hours ago

Everyone doing P2P transfer and bypassing traditional banking institutions is a powerful idea... but ultimately everyone needs to agree on a single medium of exchange, otherwise efficient market pricing is too hard.

And it's debatable whether fiat will ever whither and die. The Government will ultimately have to endorse a currency for tax purposes, and they'll always seek to control the inflationary environment so they can maintain a workable budget and keep public services afloat.

Just a century ago or so, banking was only for large corporations. Commoners and small businesses all used cash and exchanging bits of valuable metal was the norm. I mean, believe it or not, we had good reasons to abandon that simpler system in the first place. Things are better now. Markets are more efficient.

samhw1 hour ago

Yes, I’m a strong believer in cryptocurrency, but I don’t believe any current cryptocurrency will be the one that changes the world. They deserve praise - some of them - for laying groundwork, but I tend to believe that the world-changing crypto will have to behave more like Moxie Marlinspike described in his recent essay: i.e. truly building on cryptography as the source of trust, not distributed consensus among servers.

The transaction processing mechanism will also have to radically change, and be detached from the mechanism for generating money (even if you believe the two should be proportional, to strictly couple them is an impracticable engineering failure).

As for Bitcoin, aside from the flaws in Satoshi’s scheme itself, the current Bitcoin system has suffered from focussing on its unexpected popularity as a store of value, which popularity has meant it’s incredibly volatile and thus useless as a medium of exchange or unit of account. Of course the slow processing as a result of the mining mechanism is also a major hurdle.

I hope something better will come about soon. I know that it won’t come from the world of people who suddenly idolise Bitcoin because of the cult around it. It’ll come from the people who were capable of reading the original paper and seeing its potential even before it was in the news - that’s a tiny subset of crypto enthusiasts, but I hope they stay motivated.

(Final thing: it’s ‘wither’, not ‘whither’. ‘Whither’ means ‘from where’.)

fragmede8 hours ago

> but ultimately everyone needs to agree on a single medium of exchange, otherwise efficient market pricing is too hard.

This is one place that there is something interesting in the crypto space, but because it's so "inside baseball"/esoteric, it doesn't usually get any mention on skeptic's forums. Given asset A and asset B, given individual A with asset A, B with asset B, and C who wants to trade their asset A for B, how do you get all three to come together and make it all work. The fact that there must be exchanges is obvious, what's less obvious is how they actually work, how individuals A and B incentivized to participate, and what sort of payment they get out of it. Well, that's one of the not-entirely-trivial usages of smart contracts I've seen, where A and B get a payout and C gets what they want, but with more than 3 individuals involved. It's not actually important to anyone outside of the crypto space but it's interesting to take a look at the implementation details for the curious.

meowkit7 hours ago

Automated Market Makers (AMM) and Liquidity Staking/Providers are terms for what you have described.

DennisP8 hours ago

> otherwise efficient market pricing is too hard

Oh I don't know, everybody's carrying around an internet-connected computer in their pocket, it can't be that hard to show current prices in a variety of currencies. But if it is too hard, then stablecoins backed by on-chain assets are another option.

Fwiw, Ohio accepts tax payments in Bitcoin: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/11/26/ohi...

thelastgallon8 hours ago

> Fwiw, Ohio accepts tax payments in Bitcoin:

Ohio businesses can no longer use Bitcoin to pay taxes. Don’t worry, though. Sprague went on to say that in the 10 months since OhioCrypto.com launched, less than 10 businesses have chosen to pay their taxes in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. No one is really going to miss it. [1]

https://thenextweb.com/news/ohio-suspends-bitcoin-tax-paymen...

bufferoverflow8 hours ago

> everyone needs to agree on a single medium of exchange

No, everyone does not. You can easily exchange the coins you don't like for the coins you do. It's that simple.

donmcronald6 hours ago

It’s a taxable event in Canada AFAIK, so I wouldn’t call it simple.

dmitriid9 hours ago

> But when you dig a bit deeper, you'll find that there is true technical and financial innovation.

Ah yes. The good old "just google it". There's literally not a single "dig deeper" resource on the internet that explains the need for blockchains/cryptocurrencies etc.

But sure, there are a lot of "innovations" with recursive circular "innovations" (like currency speculation, HFT and flash loans, all of "innovatively made available" by regurgutating the same fatasy tokens and pretending they are worth something)

olalonde7 hours ago

> Ah yes. The good old "just google it". There's literally not a single "dig deeper" resource on the internet that explains the need for blockchains/cryptocurrencies etc.

I just named a rather massive one in my comment.

+1
Kbelicius7 hours ago
dmitriid6 hours ago

> I just named a rather massive one in my comment.

Do you mean this one? " For me, Bitcoin's potential to be a programmable money without government or central authority is a very powerful idea."

It's really isn't a true technical and financial innovation.

So, you have a slow and inefficient VM that runs an esoteric programming language, and all this VM allows you to do is exchange fictional tokens whose primary value is derived from ... trading fictional tokens. That's all there is to this great amazing innovative idea.

> The idea that you can be your own bank and do p2p electronic money transfers without an intermediary. That has never been possible before.

Of course it has. Never on this scale, true, but "I will print my own money that you can only use in these specific circumstances, otherwise you have to convert it to actual money at severe discount/penalties" is probably as old as the world itself.

Also, there are reasons intermediaries exist.

tim33311 hours ago

A nitpick is that [2] isn't front running. Front running is where you figure an institution is going to buy lots of some stock and get a buy order of your own in first, typically done by brokers.

Making fake trades to make the price look like it's going up can be called market manipulation in this case I think. This is also called painting the tape. A similar but slightly different scheme is wash trading where you basically sell an asset to yourself to make it look like that's the price and that there is trading volume going on. There's a lot of this kind of thing going on with NFTs.

somebodythere19 hours ago

Every time a nascent technology bubble crashes (dot com, AI winter, crypto...) speculation gets reset, scams and projects with no future get wiped out, and the space gets healthier.

TomSwirly6 hours ago

And yet you still don't name any actual useful applications!

The Ethereum world computer has 300,000 nodes, and yet has 1/5000 the computation power of a single Raspberry Pi 4.

Except for actual cryptocurrencies, all the "web3" applications could use boring old 1980s vintage cryptography, be just as distributed, and run ten thousand times faster and cheaper.

----

So far the only way anyone has ever made any money from cryptocurrency is to sell it to someone for more fiat currency. In fact, in real terms, it has net lost money because of the huge amounts of electricity expended.

So once people such as yourself purchase cryptocurrency, they know in their hearts that the only way they will make more is if further people buy into their Ponzi scheme.

Therefore, your comment above.

dmitriid17 hours ago

> There exists a transparency in the open-source code of smart contracts that will disrupt the current gatekeepers like the internet did

Ah yes. How can we forget the community-audited and vetted smart contracts that ended up draining its users' wallets of all their money. Transparency!

sabhiram1 hour ago

Well, as opposed to hearing "oops our black box implementation of your information got hacked", I honestly don't mind the trend of "read the contract, it is code". Sure it can be misleading, sure it can be intended to trick someone. However, code is law, and even backdoors are "code". Instead we should fix the backdoors so that code can be reasonable "law".

betwixthewires19 hours ago

> All that to say, a lot has changed in the technology world in the past six to twelve years

It sure has. But not really that fundamentally, since 2009.

A lot has changed in the blockchain space too. Just because you don't know about it doesn't mean it isn't true. A lot of those changes are on par with some of the tech advancements mentioned before my quote in the article. In 2009, you had bitcoin, so basically a distributed consensus workaround that enables artificial scarcity of fungible digital items. Today, you have sharded blockchains, triple entry bookkeeping, proof of stake, blockchains that handle incentivized file storage, alternate name lookup systems, purchasing compute power on an automated order book, liquidity pools (a major, major fintech advancement if you're not familiar with then), arbitrary code execution with a canonical record of it.

It is absolutely still early days.

Because these are decentralized consensus networks, there's inertia. Bitcoin is never going to be cutting edge. Because there's a lot of money to be made, there will be scams. Most of the "cutting edge" isn't cutting edge at all. But there are some real developments happening, allowing novel use cases, enabling very interesting things to be done.

I'm not a fan of the whole web3 concept. I think 99% of the selling points that the charlatans hype every market cycle are nonsense. But a little digging beyond an animated JS bloat landing page (a red flag all it's own) and you can quickly figure out what projects potentially have something and what's bullshit. Or you can do what I do and assume a project is a scam until proven otherwise.

chx19 hours ago

> Today, you have

snip

weird things no one gives one hoot about outside of the crypto shill word. All of this is just buttering the cat.

https://twitter.com/GossiTheDog/status/1476873668605186050

betwixthewires19 hours ago

Well then what's the point of this discussion? The thread is "how has it advanced? How long can you call it early days?" If you just stop reading rebuttals as soon as they're mentioned you're better off talking to a wall, and you'd waste less people's time that way too.

Daishiman18 hours ago

Because technical minutiae are completely irrelevant if they don't eventually convert into useful features for products with at least some level of mass-market appeal.

I have yet to see a single enticing idea for blockchain/web3/whatever for a consumer or business not related to finance. If that requires an ever-increasing number of technical challenges to be solved for that to happen, then we're just looking at vaporware.

+2
barnabee13 hours ago
+1
betwixthewires7 hours ago
tootie7 hours ago

Changes in the implementations are not the question. It's application that she's skeptical of. Who has found a reason to use Blockchain for anything other than cryptocurrency?

I actually witnessed one attempt. An actual Fortune 100 built a Blockchain for their public communications. Mostly just an excuse to show off their street cred. It landed with an absolute thud. Nobody cared.

sweetbitter6 hours ago

One idea that I am fond of is Nym, an implementation of the high-latency mix network Loopix[0], but with incentives for nodes to act as mixnodes and message providers, using a model in which users pay nodes for their bandwidth. The goal being to provide strong anonymity in the face of a global passive adversary.

[0] - https://arxiv.org/abs/1703.00536

MaxfordAndSons18 hours ago

> blockchains that handle incentivized file storage, alternate name lookup systems

It would be a shame if IPFS and Filecoin end up in the dustbin of history if the web3 music stops. They're the only reasonable non-financial applications of blockchain tech that I've been able to wrap my head around to date.

tim33310 hours ago

And IPFS isn't even really a blockchain tech. It's more a variation on bittorrent which predates bitcoin by several years.

laserlight8 hours ago

8 years, to be exact.

betwixthewires6 hours ago

Yep, they're great. I prefer IPFS without the incentive layer of filecoin, but it is interesting to be able to incentivize storage in protocol, and there's obvious use cases. Plenty of people pay google drive or Dropbox for extra storage. Democratizing access to the demand and supply side of that market is pretty cool.

There was a project called Golem aiming to do the same thing with compute, it was pretty cool last time I read about it. Not sure how far along it is, and I'm sure there are other projects aiming to do the same thing.

deanCommie19 hours ago

Do we have proof of stake or do we have a lot of bitcoin folks avoiding criticism about the wasteful nature of most chains by claiming that proof of stake will fix all this.

How many coins are actually using proof of stake?

Why haven't the biggest including Ethereum done so?

betwixthewires19 hours ago

The same reason Bitcoin doesn't implement every tom dick and Harry's supposed solution to every technical problem. The big boys have to get it right the first time. Again, inertia.

Ethereum does have proof of stake, a protocol called Casper FFG. It is currently live on the Ethereum beacon chain, waiting for consensus to move the entire network to it.

There are lots of smaller projects trying different protocols they call proof of stake too, as well as different proof of whatever they came up with for whatever reason. Most of them are veiled centralization, some of them are interesting for one reason or another. I'm not here to shill networks or coins so I won't be tossing names around.

DennisP8 hours ago

Right now Ethereum has 9 million ETH deposited on its proof-of-stake network, worth about $30 billion.

That's running in parallel to the main network, which is still mining. Code to merge the two and eliminate mining is currently running on a public test network. Previous upgrades have all taken less than a year to go live after the launch of their public test networks.

baby19 hours ago

I’d say most of the coins today are proof of stake

eco18 hours ago

Most of the "proof of stake" coins are some form of delegated proof of stake, usually with an opaque and shady set of highly compensated validators with hidden connections to the project. Effectively proof of authority masquerading as proof of stake. This lets them have big TPS bragging rights while maintaining the appearance that they are running a decentralized blockchain rather than a centralized database with extra steps.

Real, decentralized proof of stake is a hard problem that has only just started to become reality.

baby3 hours ago

No proof of stake has been working without issues for a while now. Maybe you’re still in 2015?

ryandamm19 hours ago

The central problem in this entire debate is two groups talking past each other. The skeptics say "what is it for?" expecting a detailed answer, and the response from crypto enthusiasts is vague and high level; most of what I hear is heavy on words like "revolutionize" and "decentralize" but very, very short on specifics. Or I get argument by analogy to other technologies.

If I heard a single use case where blockchain technology actually created real value in the world, and was better than other alternatives, I'd listen. But it has to create real value, based on the real world and not some fantastical notion of what money is or governments are for.

I think we skeptics want a grounded narrative, and we're stuck hearing a thesis statement and nothing to back it up.

magicjosh18 hours ago

Here's a recent article from the NYTimes on buying things with Bitcoin. None of the examples seem impressive, a doctor accepting payments for covid tests, sex worker getting paid: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/03/style/what-can-you-actual...

Sparyjerry18 hours ago

The crux of what makes it popular is decentralization which is a fantastic feature and I'd argue the single feature that it has that regular currencies can't ever have. However, everyone doesn't have a wallet and about 60% of all bitcoin is in the hands of only about 10,000 wallets. It's one of those things, if everyone had it then it would work great but because no one has it, it doesn't work at all. In order to get it you need someone you trust to trade you it, which means a centralized exchange, high fees, and slow transactions. However, if you only ever live in a bitcoin or other decentralized coin economy, meaning you never have to trade out of it into another currency, then it can work for you. Say Tesla accepts bitcoin, and everyonjhe pays in bitcoin, it still has to pay it's suppliers who don't accept bitcoin, this means it has to make a conversion to regular currency, adding an additional step, making things slower and less liquid. It's one of those things that just won't work, until it does.

twiceaday7 hours ago

I don't buy this framing for a second. Crypto is popular, I mean actually popular amongst most people on the ground, only because the price keeps going up; with the implicit promise that it will keep going up. Everything else is creative story telling. On-paper benefits are trotted out only to post-hoc explain the growth (which is mostly there from pumping and people seeing past growth) and to pump the coin further. "Decentralized" is only as important as it keeps the "this is still crypto right?" identity in lay-peoples minds that is tied to magic money out of nowhere. Otherwise it can be weakened arbitrarily.

koonsolo6 hours ago

Of course there are awesome use-cases, but the real problem of the skeptics is that they can't let go of their fiat.

Take Nano for example: sub-second, 0-fee transactions, of any amount, to any (unbanked) person in the world. Of course, there is no way that any other (fiat) system can achieve this (due to operation costs, regulation, etc)

But the response of skeptics will always be "but I have to convert my fiat money". And at that point, it's not free and instant anymore.

But just because the new system loses its benefits because of backwards compatibility with the old system, doesn't mean that it is inferior. Maybe for some things, you don't need to pass through the old system anymore. One example is mining pool payouts, which can do payments through Nano to get the 0 fee transactions. (see https://2miners.com/blog/how-to-get-payouts-for-ethereum-min...).

You can argue that this mining is all a scam etc, but in the end real value is transferred using the most optimal network. More optimal than any central system that you can think of (remember 0-fee, instant trancations).

wackro5 hours ago

> ... but the real problem of the skeptics is that they can't let go of their fiat.

>But the response of skeptics will always be "but I have to convert my fiat money".

Here's a thought experiment for you. Your mother/father/neighbour's entire wealth is converted, at no cost to them, into BTC/ETH/whatever. What is their reaction?

Is it, 'thank god we didn't have to pay those conversion fees!'

I think not.

koonsolo1 hour ago

Here's a thought experiment for you. How do you transfer money from US to: Venezuela, Mali, Lybia, Angolia, Tajikistan, Uruguay?

I can give you a really simple answer when using crypto: you just transfer it.

Can't wait to hear your answer for each of those countries, and the fees and delays associated with it.

edit: some people go work in a western country and send money home to their family.

Zerverus35 minutes ago

So a use case the average citizen doesn’t give a flying fuck about.

Oh gosh, I wish I could transfer money to <country I never had any desire to send money to>~ let’s sacrifice consumer protections, privacy and stability for that said nobody ever.

It’s just like ‘financial inclusion’ from the ilks of Peter Thiel is code for shoveling vulnerable and financially illiterate people into the gears of the pyramid machine

+1
wackro1 hour ago
rednerrus19 hours ago

Crypto was good for blackmarket transactions.

ryandamm18 hours ago

Still probably is!

pclmulqdq11 hours ago

Not now that companies like chainalysis exist: the transactions are on a public ledger. Monero was designed for private payments, and its value hasn't exploded like Bitcoin or Eth...

mw8888 hours ago

People this uninformed are somehow the vocal majority of blockchain talk on HackerNews. What a seriously embarrassing misconception which demonstrates ignorance on a fundamental level.

democracy16 hours ago

I also find funny how all the fighters for the bright future, peace and rainbows are planning to become filthy rich in the process of making the world a better place. People like Vitalik and Charlie Lee (Litecoin) happily cashed out their coins into dirty filthy USD in 2018 and became millionaires. You remove the chance to become crazy rich and who really gonna stay there?

lawn15 hours ago

A single use-case?

How about uncensorable donations? For example Wikileaks got blocked by banks and payment processors when they wrote about the war crimes the US committed.

The US could block the banks, but they could never block crypto donations.

mirekrusin18 hours ago

Donations for dev's OSS didn't work.

okwubodu19 hours ago
ryandamm18 hours ago

Centralize it and implement something like M-Pesa, or build it on top of the existing mobile networks. The solution is selling standardized contracts to small hold farmers that pay out automatically; the problem has nothing to do with decentralization or trustless transactions.

The blockchain adds nothing here, and creates a layer of complexity that makes it more brittle.

okwubodu18 hours ago

> The solution is selling standardized contracts to small hold farmers that pay out automatically

And how easy do you think that is in Kenya?

You and I being able to take stable banking and government for granted says more about our own position in the world than it does about the efficacy of the technology itself.

Daishiman18 hours ago

You think Kenya doesn't have even a single, large, stable bank/trust/underwriter? You think they don't have underwriters that can delegate most of the money and authority to overseas institutions, worse comes to worst? Countries with bad credit frequently issue bonds and instruments in the state of New York. If it's good enough for a nation I'm sure companies can work something out.

aaron69518 hours ago
hubraumhugo19 hours ago

I'm still very opposed to the idea of taking a technology and then searching a problem for it. Why? Back in 2017 during the first hype cycle, blockchain companies raised hundreds of millions with ICOs. I became very interested in the technology too, and some friends still work in this space. 4 years later in the web3 era, there is not a single product aside from trading/finance that got traction. Use cases like storing the history of a car on-chain, transparent supply chains, public voting... this all sounds interesting but never made it to product-market fit.

I always assume that I'm wrong, so I'll keep looking for successful applications and I'm sure you can prove me wrong :)

lkrubner13 hours ago

I've been documenting this with specific companies. A recent one that I worked with was Omnichains:

https://www.omnichains.com

"Omnichain CEO Pratik Soni speaks to Inbound Logistics about the growing number of blockchain use cases in the supply chain, including in reverse logistics, product authentication and sustainability."

Apparently this company started with the idea that they would use the blockchain to make supply chains more transparent. And they raised money from investors with that goal in mind. But they have since retreated from that goal.

I worked with a retailer that worked with Omnichains. None of Omnichains tools had anything to do with the blockchain. Certainly, we were never given access to a blockchain, nor was it mentioned after we had signed the contract. Instead, we were granted limited access to an API that I believe was run with Ruby on Rails and MySQL. So at a certain point this company retreated to traditional technologies, rather than trying to use the blockchain.

This is one example. At some point I hope to write up some of the other examples that I've seen.

I do not believe anyone will ever find a legal use for blockchains that cannot be more easily served with traditional technologies.

cornel_io10 hours ago

> I do not believe anyone will ever find a legal use for blockchains that cannot be more easily served with traditional technologies.

One does not blockchain to build a product in the cleanest, most efficient manner.

One blockchains to have access to investors/speculators that control the gigantic pile of on-chain wealth that has accumulated over the past ten years, who would never sink $100k+ into a poorly drawn picture of an ape with sunglasses if it was running on Rails+MySQL.

This may sound like I'm being dismissive, so let me be clear, I am not - this is an extremely valid reason to chase this technology, and the existence of these (maybe ridiculous and shady, maybe not) massive stacks of digital cash is going to drive a lot of investment in the space, so if there is anything that can "break through" and prove real value beyond just targeting this wealth, someone is going to find it, likely as a side-effect of targeting these whales.

Web 1.0 couldn't have happened without the late 90s tech bubble, and as ridiculous as the Pets.com era hype was, when the dust settled there was much broader connectivity and a real market for the Internet companies that did live up to the hype over the next two decades.

mountainb10 hours ago

One big issue is that the largest supply chain participants generally do not want transparency because they make their money on opacity. Transparency attracts more entrants, applicants, and competitors. It is business intelligence that provides important things like pricing advantages. When competitors can see your supply chain, they can do all kinds of stuff to make your life harder and gain an edge.

Almost everyone at every stage in the supply chain have an interest in opacity rather than transparency. The people who may want transparency want transparency for themselves but not for others: they want the equivalent of a one-way mirror to spy through. Naturally, people tend to react with extreme negativity to the installation of such one-way mirrors. Actual transparency is desired by almost no one. This is even true at the consumer level: the consumer may want to know the supply chain information for various purposes, regulators certainly want to know it, business partners certainly want supply chain documentation, but a consumer would balk at the notion that they expose all of their credit card transactions to the entire world at all times. It's always transparency for thee and not for me.

yashg9 hours ago

Most of the companies that tout blockchain seem to be doing so to attract free marketing and VC funding. Once they have that the real products seem to use the same old reliable tech that runs the entire internet.

tim33311 hours ago

There's selling NFTs of ape cartoons, or selling crypto coins or other imaginary assets.

Rails and MySQL are too transitory for that - you'd buy a record in the database only to find the company hosting the database had gone broke or been bought by Yahoo who closed them.

You buy a bitcoin and you can be fairly confident in a decade or two you'll still have it.

acdha11 hours ago

> You buy a bitcoin and you can be fairly confident in a decade or two you'll still have it.

You’ll have a copy of some hashes. That doesn’t mean anyone will want to buy them at the price you want or even that there will be an operating network around them.

This is especially important to learn when it comes to NFTs: blockchains are too inefficient to store the media so you’re still dependent on paying for outside hosting (yes, even with IPFS). Because you’re buying a link but not the rights, you would also need to make sure you have the right to even make your own mirror, too.

grey-area11 hours ago

What would make you confident about that? Buying an NFT requires trusting the chain (typically ethereum) and the marketplace.

Now you have two problems.

dmitriid10 hours ago

> You buy a bitcoin and you can be fairly confident in a decade or two you'll still have it.

And it will be worthless. Most assets that NFTs point to are already gone. Because that useless hash you have in your NFT? It points to a centralised storager somewhere.

+1
tim3338 hours ago
barneygale11 hours ago

Most NFTs aren't stored on the blockchain.

czbond10 hours ago

Yes - they usually use an URL that points to some IPFS that is behind a domain name they'll let lapse, and someone can cyber jack the domain.

throwaway673411 hours ago

>Rails and MySQL are too transitory for that - you'd buy a record in the database only to find the company hosting the database had gone broke or been bought by Yahoo who closed them.

Wouldn't working with more robust companies (like banks) solve this?

tim3338 hours ago

I guess it does to an extent with things like share ownership. Although there are ongoing costs for the various peoples salaries at the institutions involved.

edem12 hours ago

You're missing the point. The goal when you use blockchain is not to more easily serve. It is all the things that don't matter to you until it is too late, like censorship resistance.

Zerverus31 minutes ago

Because when there is an immutable record of all transactions you ever did in perpetuity, you’ll be so much better off in a fascist run country.

The freedom to fuck your life over, forever, in record the moment you make that one transaction that connects your identity is sure worth the fact that it’s uncensorable.

Lol.

tyre11 hours ago

Censorship compared to what? What can’t you post on the internet? Specifically that the government would stop you from, not private companies like Twitter booting people.

300bps11 hours ago

There is no censorship resistance with blockchain.

You’re still beholden to the whims of centralized developers and miners.

You’re still beholden to a court order. If the government wants to confiscate your crypto assets they can simply put you in jail until you provide the location of your private key.

If the government can penetrate offshore bank accounts they’ll have no trouble with your crypto wallet.

I’m happily mining ETH with gminer on flexpool.io and selling the coins as fast as I get them just like I did with BTC a decade ago. Because I know this whole thing is a temporary pyramid scheme.

The_rationalist11 hours ago

Blockchain has no point versus immutable databases https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23290769 or at least database with immutable history of changes.

trauco10 hours ago

One point the linked article makes is that even this claim has been proven wrong.

tomputer18 hours ago

> Use cases like storing the history of a car on-chain, transparent supply chains, public voting... this all sounds interesting but never made it to product-market fit.

Anything that does not exist natively on the blockchain doesn't need a blockchain at all.

If a token on the blockchain would represent you as the owner of a car and one day someone steals your private key which represents your car ownership, that person is now the owner of your car. Still, the car keys are located in your house, the license plate is registered on your name and address, the insurance is on your name.

I guess I don't need to explain further how ridiculous that idea is that a token would officially represent you as the car owner.

chucke17 hours ago

Not to say your completely wrong, just that the purpose of car tokens on the blockchain is to replace perhaps your insurance, but not the keys.

tomputer16 hours ago

I don't see why something like insurance needs a token on a decentralized blockchain. The Bitcoin blockchain needs a token because the token itself represents the value (BTC) inside the network. The token is also needed because it adds an incentive for nodes (miners) to support the network.

Note: this is my current view of it. If someday it turns out it is useful, I am happy to admit that I was wrong.

+3
chucke14 hours ago
gambiting16 hours ago

But....why. What problem does it solve. How is it better than existing insurance policies that are perfectly fine being bound to my name and address

+5
chucke14 hours ago
+5
jakupovic15 hours ago
Grustaf13 hours ago

Unless the insurance policy is somehow decentralised, it doesn't serve any purpose to decentralise the knowledge that you are insured.

+1
ziml7710 hours ago
edem12 hours ago

You're totally off. All those things you said _can_ go on the blockchain including the private key that they could use to start the car. Of course they can sell it for parts...if the parts didn't have private key protection too...

cuteboy1911 hours ago

Someone has to do the data entry into the blockchain. You end up having to trust this person, which completely negates the purpose of the blockchain: trustlessness.

For supply chain issues the Oracle problem is very apparent. How does your smart contract know if the shipment has actually reached its destination?

tim33311 hours ago

So do I need to deliver my car to Russia when they hack my computer?

axg1117 hours ago

Couldn’t you say the same thing about the deed for a house?

throwawaylinux17 hours ago

The government enforces property rights though, so it's not a matter of distributed consensus, it's a matter of who the government views as the rightful owner. In a property dispute, a court might look at a number of factors: occupation and use, maintenance and upkeep of the property, paying bills associated with the property, registration of a deed with a title office, etc.

A digital signature on a blockchain somewhere means nothing. How do you connect it with the real property? All of the other above things go some way to demonstrating a real connection to the property. A block chain does not. It's the same problem all blockchain solutions have: verifying the data at the point of entry to the block chain. If that is distributed and can not be trusted and verified remotely, then the existence of it in a block chain does not help.

I'll create PropertyBlock™ blockchain tomorrow and sign a block with your property address it over to myself. Worthless.

nly15 hours ago

Deeds aren't a thing anymore in many countries.

In the UK ownership is determined by a centralised land registry, and it must be registered if ownership is to change hands.

+1
Vespasian13 hours ago
duskwuff17 hours ago

Physically possessing the deed to a house doesn't make you its owner either.

+1
bratwurst300015 hours ago
conradev17 hours ago

This problem exists with cash. We teach people to not keep too much cash on them, but to keep it in a bank where it is safer.

You could get a credit card, and then it’s not even your money that you are spending! or your money that you lost to fraud.

I can see both of these existing in the crypto world in some form, the same way they exist in the fiat world

as for the banks and institutions and companies losing all of their money? that’s a new blockchain problem for sure

lawtalkinghuman11 hours ago

> as for the banks and institutions and companies losing all of their money? that’s a new blockchain problem for sure

No, that used to be a real-world problem for banks until laws were passed that more tightly regulated financial institutions...

e.g. in the US, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildcat_banking

andreskytt17 hours ago

That said, blockchain-like technologies (ksi, more specifically) can be used to assure the integrity of databases storing the relationship between you and your car.

hectormalot17 hours ago

Yes, but is it a problem worth solving beyond what we have today? What’s the last time we saw an database integrity failure at the DMV/… leading to cars being owned by people that shouldn’t?

+1
notahacker16 hours ago
staticassertion17 hours ago

Databases have been doing that for a long time. Blockchains only add additional guarantees that matter when you have hostile participants, which only matters if you're decentralizing your system, which you probably don't want to do for a lot of things (like tracking ownership of a car).

lottin17 hours ago

But is this blockchain-like technology better than the alternatives? What advantages does it have over a simple checksum, for example?

democracy17 hours ago

A good example of an imaginary problem!

quickthrowman11 hours ago

I have never had the state DMV lose record of my ownership of a vehicle. I don’t know anyone that has. I can’t find any record of it happening.

It doesn’t sound like an actual problem to me.

lawtalkinghuman11 hours ago

mysqldump | sha256sum

conradev17 hours ago

This problem exists with cash. We teach people to not keep too much cash on them, but to keep it in a bank where it is safer.

You could get a credit card, too, and then it’s not even your money that you are spending! or your money that you lost to fraud.

I can see both of these existing in the crypto world in some form, the same way they exist in the fiat world

as for the banks and institutions and companies losing all of their money? that’s a new blockchain problem for sure

Galanwe17 hours ago

> one day someone steals your private key which represents your car ownership, that person is now the owner of your car.

Why take such a naive blockchain as example? You could very well have a proof of authority blockchain so that 3 notary have to sign a car transaction.

You could also very well have revocation lists published on the blockchain by a further authority if keys are stolen.

There are hundreds of ways to make this work.

At the very least, that would allow me to know that I'm not buying a stolen car.

tomputer17 hours ago

I don't think it's a naive example. All these kind of proposed blockchain solutions raise the same questions for me:

Why do you need a decentralized blockchain with tokens to solve that problem? If not for the tokens, what incentive have people to keep running and protect the blockchain against attacks? The oracle problem: how do you prevent someone from pushing false or duplicate data to the blockchain?

gambiting16 hours ago

And literally none of it, not a single step that you mentioned requires blockchain.

+6
Galanwe15 hours ago
lolinder10 hours ago

> You could very well have a proof of authority ...

> ... by a further authority if keys ...

As soon as your blockchain solution requires proof of authority, your trustless solution starts requiring trust in some form of central governance. At that point, what utility does your blockchain solution provide that the DMV database does not?

robjan17 hours ago

Who appoints the notaries?

+1
beertoagunfight17 hours ago
rileyphone18 hours ago

Blockchain is proving a more than capable solution in the ransomware payments space, enabling a whole new class of malware.

staticassertion17 hours ago

The thing is it's not really particularly good at that. No moreso at least because of any attributes of the blockchain. It's really because of external reasons:

1. Lack of tooling and cooperation for investigating fraud

2. Lack of regulation

3. Programmatic interfaces

4. There are markets like the NFT space that are amazing for laundering

But no part of why it's good for crime has to do with blockchain.

notahacker16 hours ago

"Censorship resistance" was the original use case for blockchain, and demanding money with menaces remotely is the one area where it's unquestionably superior to being discreet about where your money is stored

vanviegen16 hours ago

Reason 2) does seem to be due to an attribute of the Blockchain, as there is no central organization that the government can force to establish the real-world identity of all participants. (Although this is now happening at the point of conversion to/from fiat currency.)

staticassertion4 hours ago

(2) is an attribute of time. The legal system always plays catch up to the real world. Nothing about bitcoin prevents regulation.

democracy17 hours ago

That's true! At least there is one great use-case )))

Andrew_nenakhov17 hours ago

It also enables people to finance themselves despite tyrannical restrictions imposed by bad governments. Using bitcoin I can send money to someone in Chi no a who's social rating was degraded by the CCP and who is forbidden from using banks.

This alone trumps any arguments against bitcoin. Crime will exist forever and criminals will find ways to finance themselves anyway, so the use of cryptocurrencies for their operations is not really a factor.

382517 hours ago

> Using bitcoin I can send money to someone in Chi no a who's social rating was degraded by the CCP and who is forbidden from using banks

How will they convert it into something they can use to pay rent and buy groceries?

> Crime will exist forever and criminals will find ways to finance themselves anyway, so the use of cryptocurrencies for their operations is not really a factor.

Does this make it easier for the wealthy to evade taxes? I find just signing transactions using something like gpg a much easier to reason about.

My biggest concern about cryptocurrency is fees. There is no reason why fees should be based on payload as far as I understand. Whether I’m sending one satoshi (or any other unit of money) or a trillion, the cost should be the same and ideally as close to zero as possible if not zero. This was the original reason I was drawn to bitcoin but it was obvious it would never be the case.

+1
yashg17 hours ago
+1
traceddd16 hours ago
+1
drKarl13 hours ago
acdha10 hours ago

> Using bitcoin I can send money to someone in Chi no a who's social rating was degraded by the CCP and who is forbidden from using banks.

Okay, let’s think about this even a little bit: receiving that Bitcoin requires them to have software and access websites which the Chinese government has restricted. Assuming they successfully get a wallet app which isn’t compromised, they then need to connect to a well-known, trivially blocked high-volume network service without the Great Firewall triggering. Having done that, they then need to pay a substantial processing fee for any transaction. Since their landlord, grocer, etc. need to be paid in real money this person will also need to find someone to convert it, again requiring a substantial payment because accepting something banned from a pariah is high-risk.

All of this is not only expensive but incredibly risky since you’re leaving a lot of electronic records of illegal activity and you’re forced to trust various third-parties who can be compromised without your ability to easily tell. Bitcoin is perfect for state authorities, too, since it leaves a signed record of intent to break the law for each transaction — if they bust a business which does a lot of cash sales, it’s a lot harder to prove where each bill came from and there’s no way to do so if they only start monitoring after the fact like there is with Bitcoin.

enneff13 hours ago

> This alone trumps any arguments against bitcoin.

This is a ridiculous claim. Just because a technology can be used for good does not mean it is beyond criticism.

staticassertion17 hours ago

> It also enables people to finance themselves despite tyrannical restrictions imposed by bad governments. Using bitcoin I can send money to someone in Chi no a who's social rating was degraded by the CCP and who is forbidden from using banks.

In no way does bitcoin being blockchain based enable you to do this better or more effectively. It's just because it's a less regulated currency.

+2
Andrew_nenakhov15 hours ago
auggierose15 hours ago

Well, it cannot be regulated, because it is blockchain based. That's the whole point, isn't it.

red_trumpet17 hours ago

And of the CCP ever finds out, he will end up in jail. And if they can link your wallet to you, you will not be able to travel to China anymore.

boringg12 hours ago

I had the same experience. The thing that gets me as well is that normally with the rise of new technology you get an excitement that is tangible. Like when the internet first xame around there were emails, multiplayer games via modem, websites. A whole plethora of new wonderful experiences. So far all I've really gotten after doing a lot of research is some good projects and a long tail of terrible projects/websites and a lot of scammers.

It really feels like with the NFT backlash in the gaming world right now that crypto hasn't found its landing and it really hasn't taken off - its kind of in this weird purgatory. Im hopeful but very suspicious at this point. I wasn't suspicious of “the internet” until it was around for a long time. Crypto is past its wave of this is cool and lets build stuff phase afaik and now everyone is trying to make money off it.

wodenokoto18 hours ago

In Dubai, buying real estate with bitcoin is a real thing, and by the looks of it also a big thing.

If nothing else, it shows that crypto has succeed in one of its goals: moving money between countries, without being detected/hindered by governments.

I mean, I don't know who buys real estate with crypto, but I am assuming that people who live in dubai and have large crypto values are bullish on crypto, and won't waste it for a low roi investment like realestate. So that leaves rich foreigners who wants realestate away from their own government and I can see them purchasing bitcoins as a way to siphon money out of their country.

Other than that, I am also out of ideas for useful uses of crypto currencies

galaxyLogic18 hours ago

Buying real estate with bit-coin, isn't that close to money laundering?

clairity18 hours ago

close to? sounds exactly like money laundering, since people who can move money legitimately wouldn’t do so through a relatively risky instrument like bitcoin. tax evasion is a likely entry-level reason, but often coupled with other sketchy illegalities.

+1
tiluha17 hours ago
shrimpx17 hours ago

If you bought your bitcoin with legit money, and then you exchanged the bicoin for a house, and you're doing your taxes correctly, how could that be money laundering?

+2
yashg16 hours ago
jopsen15 hours ago

> If you bought your bitcoin with legit money

How easy is it to actually buy 5M USD of bitcoin? Assuming you have legit money?

And why would you move legit money out of the banking system? Assume you have 5M USD in bitcoin, can you sell it and deposit that in your bank without lots of money laundering questions that are hard to answer?

My two cents is that if you have legit money, you will want to keep in the banking system, and avoid risks of being accused of money laundering.

leppr17 hours ago

That would be a stupid thing to do, as Bitcoin transaction chains are public and permanent, and the use of mixers[1] close to a deal will set off alarm bells.

Cash is an infinitely better money laundering vehicle.

[1]: tools that blur the transaction chain, masking the origin of one's coins.

galaxyLogic3 hours ago

Cash is not so easy to move internationally. It is not so easy to move around internationally at all with flight-delays and cancellations and what have you covidis

yashg18 hours ago

That is classic money laundering. The only use case for funny money.

hanselot13 hours ago
cinntaile18 hours ago

Why would that be the case?

yashg16 hours ago

You have cash (like a ton of cash in bank notes). The cash has unsavory origins. You go to a shady local dealer who will take your cash and give you crypto in an offshore exchange. That is cross border money laundering. You then use that crypto to buy property or NFT "art". Some months later you sell the asset, either for money in bank or crypto which you convert to money on a KYC exchange like Coinbase. Voila, you have washed your dirty money into perfectly clean money in bank. Best, you do it in a jurisdiction which doesn't have personal income tax. Like Dubai.

+2
missedthecue17 hours ago
oblio18 hours ago

Doesn't Dubai have anti money laundering laws? It doesn't matter if you pay with seashells, don't they ask you where the money is from?

djdjfhsje33edh5 hours ago

Plenty of countries don't. I was just asking a friend if it would be difficult for an American to open a bank account in Thailand or Vietnam because of the reporting requirements. He said that with the proper introduction, there would no problem at all. Doesn't matter if you want to deposit $500 or $5 million. There might be an extra "service charge" for the larger amounts, but there will be no questions about its origin.

magicjosh18 hours ago

Here's an article About Dubai putting its entire land registry on the blockchain:

https://www.ccn.com/100-dubai-put-entire-land-registry-block...

yashg15 hours ago

"DLD has created the blockchain system using a smart and secure database"

A blockchain system using a secure database. Makes it abundantly clear, how much they understand what a blockchain is. Truly, future belongs to blockchain systems.

dmitriid17 hours ago

Funny how you read that glowing announcement and realize that literally nothing in that announcement requires a blockchain.

malwarebytess18 hours ago

That is what financialization does. Finance is a parasite that will destroy all potential if given room. To force finance to be symbiotic you must never allow them to control anything.

These ideas are best left in the academy, and then later financialized. The exception to this is internal R&D (like Bell Labs and countless other extremely productive corporate divisions.)

boppo118 hours ago

Out of curiosity: How well have significant Bell Labs contributors been compensated? It seems to me that lost of current tech, and even 'future tech' not yet adopted has come out of Bell Labs. But how many of the engineers that came up with said advances settled for relative peanuts? Getting paid $250K for something that changes the world seems... less than adequate.

Maybe I'm just greedy.

I don't think so.

shlurpy16 hours ago

Those people are represent labor, not capital, and thus are never paid their share of profit under capitalism.

nly15 hours ago

Bitcoin had a problem to solve, it had a use case, from day dot... Satoshi set out to replace central banks that can inflate the money supply.

It was supposed to be relatively boring tech solving a niche problem (from the guy on the streets point of view)

grey-area15 hours ago

It was also designed as a pyramid scheme though to drive adoption. This was an unfortunate mistake and that and the inefficiency at scale doomed it as a currency.

pirate78713 hours ago

This is wrong. The original purpose was cashless payments between untrusted parties.

galaxyLogic18 hours ago

'Public voting' is not a technological problem but political one. There's a lot of opposition to making voting more accessible to everyone. Voting should be easy, and you don't need blockchain for that but maybe it could help. The question is who wants "voting rights".

tsimionescu18 hours ago

Unfortunately, trust in voting can only be achieved with paper voting, there is no technological solution to improve it that doesn't completely remove trust as well.

baobabKoodaa11 hours ago

Removing trust completely is a pretty high bar... but there are different voting schemes out there and some of them do a pretty good job of removing a lot of the trust. Cryptography is typically involved, but blockchain is not needed. I wrote more about this here: https://www.attejuvonen.fi/thesis/

galaxyLogic3 hours ago

That's a great page especially the graphic: https://www.attejuvonen.fi/static/5553d78133d27e12a9d1d3e6f1...

If we want more democracy I think we must get some help from technology. Liquid Democracy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_democracy ) sounds like an approach that would be hard to do without computers.

+1
tsimionescu9 hours ago
shrimpx16 hours ago

Trust as in the public trusting the vote? I'm afraid you can put political spin on and create distrust in pretty much anything.

+2
tsimionescu13 hours ago
V__13 hours ago

Obligatory Tom Scott videos:

Why Electronic Voting is a BAD Idea - Computerphile | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3_0x6oaDmI

Why Electronic Voting Is Still A Bad Idea | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkH2r-sNjQs

Ekaros15 hours ago

In person paper voting specifically. And that also really have many other things involved...

czbond10 hours ago

Decentralized, anonymized identity is one application. It sounds amazing in theory - and can work for the general use cases of sharing information with corporations. But, I believe it won't really be anonymized, as "data exhaust", "identity touch points revealing identity in aggregate" can help identify.

An example I use, is people expect bitcoin is anonymous. Yes, it is anonymous to the general layperson and corporation - but not to say NSA/FBI for "people of interest". And once bitcoin to USDollar transactions or financial institutions are more common - banks will sell your wallet information to credit bureaus, and eventually corporations will be able to de-anonymize chains for profiling just as today.

jl618 hours ago

The tech-first approach also distracts from real problems that remain unsolved while cash circles the blockdrain.

UnpossibleJim9 hours ago

I can think of small problems that use blockchain as a solution, but they're relatively niche and only make the game-space straddle the real world, so they tend to be a bit on the vaporware side. Handy, sure, but I'm not sure they are A) 100% necessarily or B) as revolutionary as everyone seems to think blockchain is meant to be =[

EDIT: forgot to say, this could be a complete lack of imagination on my part past what's been done with blockchain already or just my horrible indoctrination into the game-space like some kind of cult =)

wbl10 hours ago

Buying drugs on the Internet. The penetration might be low now, but the TAM is sizeable.

neiman18 hours ago

It seems you are looking for a product blockchain enables you, but there are activities the blockchain enables which are not products, and are very difficult up to impossible without.

One example is sustainable (financially) open-source project is one I use now. Before that it was always impossible. You get a bunch of people all over the world, many of them are identified only by Internet handles. There's no investment to handle all the legalities of establishing a business, and anyway there's no legal framework for international businesses with psuedo-anonymous people.

But with blockchain we've been using DAOs and online voting tools etc. since 3-4 years now, and it works great. It handles the governance and the finance in a way the traditional system cannot offer.

tw0418 hours ago

> One example is sustainable (financially) open-source project is one I use now. Before that it was always impossible.

And yet just like blockchain, you allude to something without providing any substance. What is the open-source project? You’ve failed to actually tell us what the real “thing” is.

BoiledCabbage18 hours ago

I'm trying to understand.

You're saying that you wouldn't be able to perform online votes or surveys and remotely send money without a blockchain?

Could you expand more on what functionality that the blockchain provides that the other solutions in this space (online surveys and remotely send money) don't?

neiman18 hours ago

Sure.

"Remotely send money" is a super hard thing to do. I literally just struggled for a month with a transfer that included 3 countries, none of them is English speaking. It required letters from banks, accountants, plenty of forms of different countries, translations, stuff which is lost in translation (the bank was unhappy with the word selection of a non-English speaker accountant, for example), different formats, different standards and navigating countless options and tricks in order to avoid ridiculous exchange and transfer fees.

This was for a "simple" action in the real world, involving me and a regular seller of something. Now take this and try to divide donations between 5 participants of your project, each from a different country and a different language. Good luck with that.

Hwoever, in my open source project we did the same thing in 20 seconds with crypto. Not because we avoid tax (we don't), but because the international mechanism is cumbersome and inaccessible if you're not an expert, and expensive probably even if you are.

We manage the donations/profits with votings, and are not familiar with a platform offering a safe way to do that in our settings.

Besides, my experience with platforms for open source projects (or in general) is bad. There is no one platform offering all the services we need, so we end up having dozens of accounts (which is actually a source of tension, because when you offer to use a new platform, an argument starts with those who "have enough accounts in their life"). Moreover, platforms eventually close, so you get stuck (migration is a hard thing to do).

Let me ask a question that maybe will look at it from a different angle. Which problems remotely sending money and online platforms solve that crypto has for managing votings and finance of an international online open source project? Seems to me it beings 100% extra problems and 0% solutions.

+3
eterm18 hours ago
lottin17 hours ago

Is this money transfer system compliant with current regulations? Because if it isn't, you're comparing apples with oranges.

+3
ulfw17 hours ago
tintor18 hours ago

They don't have to trust each other. ie. No need to have a dedicated treasurer.

+2
jhrmnn18 hours ago
+1
dmitriid17 hours ago
RandomLensman18 hours ago

How do you comply with compliance and reporting requirements? I would naively imagine that interacting with the financial system/fullfilling requirements for cross border payments etc. are still difficult when everyone is anonymous

Not saying you are doing something wrong but rather that I see a lot of applications in the wild that have to do with people imagining also a different regulatory landscape - which actually is a discussion to be had.

neiman18 hours ago

I transfer all my financial actions to my accountant who's reporting it while instructing me what I need to do further.

Compliance and reporting really differ from one country to another, and I'm not familiar with the US system (which I heard is one of the most strict). But as far as I checked (I'm not a lawyer, not an accountant and not an expert), where I live in the EU, compliance is something for legal entities (like, organizations, companies) and not for individuals like me.

[E: I take the last sentence back, it's a too general statement and I don't have the knowledge to make it. Thanks @hnhg for the comment]

+1
hnhg17 hours ago
RandomLensman17 hours ago

Thanks. So pretty traditional in that respect - sounds like a nice example of getting both worlds to work. In my work I also see this kind of "non-maximalist" use cases as the more successful at the moment.

cdiddy211 hours ago

I like the idea that the chain can be used as the source of truth when other sources of truth have failed us. first 15 minutes of this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cwbbxb987vE

acdha10 hours ago

This is disproving the claim: once you introduce oracles, you are acknowledging that the trust of the system comes from outside the chain.

cdiddy29 hours ago

that will always be the case for anything off chain. the question is do oracles and well constructed systems provide better data than what we have access to today

+1
acdha8 hours ago
agumonkey10 hours ago

It's muddy waters. I just heard some guy from a public office saying they used DOT for some specific need (related to managing bonds somehow). And it was before last year boom. It's all very fuzzy

twelve4010 hours ago

I'm glad someone remembers the (2-year) history. NFTs=ICOs, just another scam to keep "crypto" afloat. Neither ICO nor NFT resulted in anything useful, wait, maybe Bored Ape??

wahnfrieden14 hours ago

Issuing tokens is still probably illegal in both countries I live/work in. Regulatory and tax compliance immaturity are holding back a lot of people besides at the wild frontier or offshore operations with the resources to navigate that

cmews18 hours ago

Helium network is an example of a successful blockchain project/application in my opinion. They created the biggest decentralized lorawan network in the world that is used by more internet of things companies everyday. Also they are trying the same thing for creating a decentralized 5G network. It’s still early days for them because I think they started in the end of 2020 or the start of 2021, but they have grown to 490000 lorawan hotspots already. The network usage could be better, but is increasing (saw increased sensor data activity for my hotspot in 2021).

janjongboom17 hours ago

The math for Helium just does not make any sense. Looking at forum threads every gateway makes about $50 in rewards / month. That's $294,000,000 per year in rewards paid out to gateway owners.

Sending one packet costs $.00001 (100K packets for $1 according to their website). So we need to see 29,400,000,000,000 packets yearly on the Helium network for data fees to cover the gateway rewards.

Looking at data from The Things Network - who operate another LoRaWAN network - from their conference last year they mention routing 600 packets/second using 30,000 gateways => that's 630,720 packets per gateway per year.

Assuming that Helium sees the same ratio of packets, and that every packet is unique, and that every packet is meant for the Helium network (and thus paid) this yields an expected (630,720 * 490,000) 309,052,800,000 paid packets => 309,052,800,000 * 0.00001 = $3,090,528 in data fees.

So ~3 million $ in revenue (in very best case scenario) from data fees, but paying out ~294 million $ to gateway owners.

Naturally the only way this works is because they give out their own invented tokens rather than dollars. This does not make any sense, and will never make any sense. I read that the gateway manufacturers pay the Helium company 50$ per gateway (to provision a private key) which probably pays for some stuff (and to pump up their own coin), but if that's the case then it just looks like a pyramid scheme.

Also scale doesn't help if you pay out 100x more for every gateway than you can potentially earn per gateway. But that should be obvious. You're paying a gateway for 600$ and then you get >600$ in rewards per year. This does not make any sense.

cmews14 hours ago

Ok, I will bite :) The gateway rewards are becoming less and less every month because more gateways join the network. So in a certain way that feels like a pyramid scheme because the people that joined earlier have an advantage (they also took the most risk by backing this project in a early state). It is quite normal to reward the first movers to your platform (PayPal even gave away free money to grow their user base)

There is a twitter account that publishes the DC burn rate hourly/daily/weekly: https://twitter.com/HNT_DC_Burn. Last week they burned $1,064,348 in data fees so the revenue is way higher than the 3 million per year you described, but you make a fair point for the gateway activation fee and not sure how much of the DC burned is because of this. But focusing on growth by giving out rewards for early hotspots is not a weird tactic and the question is indeed if the pricing make sense for the long run. Nowadays most priced stocks or other assets don't make any sense to me as well, so I would have agreed with you 10 years ago, nowadays I'm not so sure. They are also expanding to the decentralized 5G market and the packets send will be way more than the LoRaWan network, so I think that is priced in the helium price as well at the moment.

Your last statement I don't really understand. If you participate in a network by investing/running the hotspot you would want a compensation and nowadays a gateway would earn less than 600 dollars a year because of the increased hotspot amount. There will be an equilibrium that the market decides otherwise people would shutdown their hotspots.

+1
ninepoints13 hours ago
twic9 hours ago

If these numbers are correct, then this is a cool product and business model.

It doesn't require a blockchain, though.

maxfromua17 hours ago

Sorry, can you please explain (or give some link) how it is related to blockchain? https://www.helium.com/lorawan doesn’t mention this word In general, I was under the impression that IoT devices are underpowered for such usage. Thank you!

cmews17 hours ago

Also the internet of things devices are not running the blockchain but can (energy) efficiently transfer data to the helium network. The hotspots are also quite efficient if you look at the power usage (more similar to a light bulb instead of a proof of work miner)

cmews17 hours ago

It’s on their homepage (helium.com) with the following text:

‘’’ Powered by the Helium Blockchain, The People’s Network represents a paradigm shift for decentralized wireless infrastructure. ‘’’

They use the blockchain in combination with a proof of coverage algorithm to reward hotspots. https://docs.helium.com/blockchain/proof-of-coverage/

+1
Animats17 hours ago
saurik11 hours ago

I am very curious about these actual users of Helium you refer to. I know there are a lot of nodes (where if you dump money at people--whether by direct subsidy or via circular incentive engineering--to run them that isn't surprising); but I hadn't heard of actual users. Is there any documentation of such, charts of actual usage over time, or articles covering "we adopted this and it was great"?

cmews11 hours ago

I got some airly (https://airly.org/en/products/airly-sensor/) air quality sensors in my neighborhood that are using Helium and you can see other solutions that are using https://www.helium.com/ecosystem. Not sure about the actual usage over time from sensors vs new hotspots joining the network and paying the DC fee, but I'm following https://twitter.com/HNT_DC_Burn and this should increase if the Helium network will be adopted more by sensors/IoT companies. Also the 5G hotspots they are providing in the US will probably add some value as well. You can check the helium twitter feed for companies they partner with or are using the helium network.

rvba17 hours ago

> web3 era

There is no web3, nor web3 era. It is a marketing buzzword.

xvilka12 hours ago

Biggest logistics companies in the world use it: https://www.tradelens.com/

yashg11 hours ago

Do you know of any logistics company that actually uses it? What exactly do they store on blockchain? Who gets to add blocks to the chain? Are those permissioned blockchains? Can a private permissioned blockchain even be called blockchain? How does a private blockchain differ from a centralized database?

waffle_maniac16 hours ago

Brave has micropayments for creators. It achieved 50M MAU last year. In a few years it will surpass Firefox.

xfz12 hours ago

That's a very energy-inefficient way of rewarding content creators. Given that most users are going to go through Coinbase et al, it's no different from any of the other similar schemes (anyone remember Flatr?) except that you have a volatile wallet and a payment mechanism that somehow manages to be even more expensive than Amex!

waffle_maniac5 hours ago

Cashing out BAT happens with either Uphold or Gemini. Coinbase isn’t supported.

But you don’t have to do that. I earn BAT and donate it to creators.

It’s not perfect. Neither are the solutions we have now that don’t compensate users for their attention. Over time it will improve.

NicoJuicy15 hours ago

I think PartChain of BMW is the only one i know of: https://www.press.bmwgroup.com/global/article/detail/T030716...

rvz19 hours ago

> Back in 2017 during the first hype cycle, blockchain companies raised hundreds of millions with ICOs.

Yes. Those scams have been put an end to by regulations by the SEC, as unregistered ICOs are now illegal since 2017. [0]

> there is not a single product aside from trading/finance that got traction.

So what is wrong with using blockchain domain names like ENS for identity, or sign in use cases? Are we going to look back at this in 10 years time and we will see this sort of adoption? [1]

[0] https://www.investor.gov/introduction-investing/general-reso...

[1] https://www.skiff.org/updates/skiff-ens

echopurity10 hours ago
systemvoltage19 hours ago

This is literally how research in the Universities makes it to the world. Spin-offs like Boston Dynamics are essential to building things that may not have immediate use but payoff can potentially be huge. We need to do more of this.

Don’t throw the baby with the bathwater. I really don’t think generalizations of certain jaded experience and then seeing the entire world with the same broken lens does any good. Probably the opposite. We ought to try new tech and keep an open mind.

Before people go off on Boston Dynamics - there are thousands of spin-offs, pick some other charitable example. The point isn’t about BD.

tinco19 hours ago

Boston Dynamics is and always has been on a trajectory to build useful products based on technology that is promising. Whether they're going to be successful or not is dependent on financing and time and luck of technology.

Blockchain was awesome technology in 2008, and Ethereum brought very interesting developments. But in the end there's only one thing it can do, and that's be an irrefutable ledger, and for most purposes that are of interest to the common person that is an insignificant improvement on centrally governed ledgers.

clairity18 hours ago

boston dynamics has never even been close to being on a trajectory to build useful products. they’re a grant-harvesting company first and foremost. they simply do not know how to build efficient and useful locomotors despite at least 3 decades of practice and millions of years of evolutionary precedents literally living right outside its doors.

in that way, the analogy to blockchain is apt: technology focused efforts are not product (read: marketing) oriented ventures.

+1
tinco18 hours ago
cuteboy1913 hours ago

the difference is that boston dynamics does not advertise get rich quick schemes to poor people. for example, 70% of the ads on the london tube are blockchain related. if blockchain was just something industry and academia poured money into, no one would have cared so much about it

5e92cb50239222b19 hours ago

Except that university research does not tend to produce that many charlatans and snake oil salesmen. I'll keep my skepticism until this technology gives us at least one useful mainstream thing.

baby16 hours ago

That’s just the downside of money being involved

systemvoltage19 hours ago

I don’t understand your point. So if University research makes it out to the world - but the world decides to create scams from it, is it University’s fault?

I get it. People are angry about blockchain. Let’s shoot the world, not the messengers. Otherwise, we’ll be blaming the Bell Labs engineers for 4chan.

+1
gls2ro19 hours ago
ryandamm19 hours ago

The primary difference is that basic research is conducted with everyone's money -- mostly via grants, and a lot of it in the US underwritten by the federal government -- for everyone's benefit. Even the venture capital industry is largely averse to basic research; they want more Ubers, or companies that can bring University tech to market.

Blockchain? The money flowing in is substantially from retail investors. And that's the problem. This is why we have regulations.

galaxyLogic18 hours ago

If Bitcoin is like gold, then there's really not much money going into it, into how to make better bit-coin, how to make better gold. All the money just goes into buying the bit-gold itself, or perhaps buying more mining equipment. But Bitcoin is not a replenishable resource so mining it will have diminishing returns, and like with every mining industry the nature is at risk.

yunruse19 hours ago

From my very (admittedly very inexperienced) perspective, both views here are valid: it's foolish to scour the world for nails, but it doesn't hurt to make a hammer.

Build the technology, think of how it could help, and if you can't find a niche in the world that it fits, don't force the issue. Move onto new things: perhaps re-use some old ideas, of course, but actively get a wider experience, so that you increase your surface area of finding some way for your technology to help.

bb8818 hours ago

Now that we have the hammer, the biggest advance is.... wait for it.... NFT's.

On the other hand, if you're a criminal looking to launder money, crypto is the biggest advance in years.

shlurpy16 hours ago

Anything with billions in capitalization will never stop looking for customers, and will bend and break the world to find them if needs be.

systemvoltage19 hours ago

I have no idea what blockchain does or not. But just because its applications have turned out to be scammy, is it possible that it still has good uses in the future?

May be and may be not. OP is saying more generally that we should stop looking at tech that has no uses. I am disagreeing with that stance and it is just silly to be so wound up about Blockchain zeitgeist to not see through the fog.

+1
adgjlsfhk118 hours ago
xchaotic13 hours ago

This is waste to keep throwing resources at something because maybe someday something good will come out of it. There’s many more areas like sequencing genomes and fighting cancer that these programmers could be spending their time on.

travbrack18 hours ago

Online shopping hadn't hit product market fit in the late 80s even though the Internet had already been around for a few years.

speedgoose17 hours ago

France had online shopping in the early 80s with the Minitel.

myrion14 hours ago

Plus, it was clear that online shopping could work and offered certain advantages (and disadvantages). It was also pretty clear that online access was only going to expand, which would make online shopping more attractive.

It hadn't hit a peak, but it was clearly _doing_ something that wasn't scams.

darawk18 hours ago

> I'm still very opposed to the idea of taking a technology and then searching a problem for it.

So, you're opposed to the internet, then?

vba61617 hours ago

Maybe you could refer to some history more specifically? Are you saying networking technology was developed in advance of a concept of what it's useful for?

Or is it that a global network of networks was a qualitative step beyond simple networking that didn't have a clear justification?

darawk17 hours ago

> Maybe you could refer to some history more specifically? Are you saying networking technology was developed in advance of a concept of what it's useful for?

I'm saying that networking technologies original intended use (resilient nuclear launch capability) is a tiny irrelevant fraction of what it is used for today.

I'd argue that most transformative technologies are in fact not relegated to their original intended use. Following cool/interesting/powerful technologies to see where they lead, rather than knowing the destination in advance, is how we have gotten almost everything that we have.

dmitriid17 hours ago

> So, you're opposed to the internet, then?

No. We're opposed to Juicero and Enron

darawk17 hours ago

Both of those things had very clear intended purposes at inception. Seems completely orthogonal to the question at hand.

dmitriid14 hours ago

> Both of those things had very clear intended purposes at inception.

You're this close to understanding the whole of the crypto/web3 space

> Seems completely orthogonal to the question at hand.

It really isn't

baby19 hours ago

People are doing research and deploying cool stuff that others are actively using. You can criticize that as much as you want but it won’t do much.

yashg18 hours ago

Is there any cool stuff that doesn't involve speculative trading in some "coin" or "token"?

I recently read about a steel maker in India executing a cross border order on blockchain. On further reading it turns out their bank used a third party company for digitizing letter of credit and that company claims to be using an enterprise blockchain R3 Corda. R3 itself is owned by a consortium of banks and on their website they don't use the word blockchain to describe Corda. They call it DLT.

My understanding is that a blockchain is supposed to be distributed, trustless, permissionless, immutable and open. At least that is what the core ideology behind it and is touted as the cornerstone features of blockchain. An enterprise blockchain is private, trustful, permissoned and everything that is a blockchain is not supposed to be. At that stage is it even a blockchain or just another propitiatory data store?

tomc198517 hours ago

> My understanding is that a blockchain is supposed to be distributed, trustless, permissionless, immutable and open.

A blockchain is just a data structure. That description is more befitting of Decentralized Finance/DeFi

+1
yashg17 hours ago
xfz12 hours ago

Talking of R3, their recruiters reached out to me. I wish they'd mentioned Blockchain or crypto hype up front, it would have saved me a few minutes browsing their website.

foepys19 hours ago

Can you show some examples?

baby7 hours ago

I work on Mina, check it out

hunterb12318 hours ago

Tipping site owners, BAT token.

Incentivizing IPFS content pinning, Filecoin.

Allowing censorship-resistant / chargeback free donations, most coins.

Enabling private transactions, Monero.

Most "dapps" empower decentralization, distributed exchanges, trading, DNS, ownership contracts (DOAs), etc.

NFT's for art as silly as it is, more importantly for Handshake domain names and other cases where ownership proof comes into play.

Please feel free to go and attack all of those ideas and projects, but don't think for a second you can really gaslight people into believing they aren't worth of pursuit.

+1
mujina9318 hours ago
+3
foepys18 hours ago
+1
throwawaygh18 hours ago
+2
Dwolb18 hours ago
bb8818 hours ago

Like NFT's? Money laundering services? What?

heroiccocoa18 hours ago

Then you should be opposed to most basic (theoretical computer) science and mathematics research too that doesn't have any immediately apparent application.

The scientific research to engineering pipeline is the backbone of our rapid technological progress. Basic research can target unexplored areas in a more organized fashion, allocating resources properly instead of industry's ad-hoc approach. Sort of like breath first instead of depth first. Industry will waste resources solving just their own individual instances of a mini-problem one by one resulting in a total resource consumption that is greater than what academia would have used in solving the overarching problem.

awild18 hours ago

General mathematics and computer science don't require burning energy on the scale of nations just to function

baby16 hours ago

Neither do consensus protocols not based on proof of work. How many times do people have to comment that bitcoin is not the only crypto?

+1
yashg11 hours ago
+1
danaris11 hours ago
pmlnr18 hours ago

Pour the same amount of money into math as people poured into cryptocurrencies then.

faeyanpiraat16 hours ago

How can I buy math?

+1
pmlnr14 hours ago
ique18 hours ago

The idea that blockchain tech is somehow invented out of nothing and then we search for a problem to match couldn't be further from the truth. Talk to anyone who works in the industry and they're trying to solve a problem.

I used to work in blockchain tech and the main problem I was focused on was "How do we prevent internet monopolies like Facebook and Google?".

If you don't see those monopolies as a problem, then you're disagreeing with the problem space, that doesn't make it "trying to find a problem".

tjs8rj18 hours ago

How does blockchain tech prevent monopolies exactly? Any environment that respects property rights and has activities that can be done more efficiently with scale and concentration will have centralization. Cryptocurrencies themselves are centralized by almost every dimension because mining exhibits those characteristics. Nearly any interesting on chain technology is centralized in that a minority disproportionately receives the vast majority of the upside. None of this kills monopolies

ique17 hours ago

You are using a very different meaning of centralisation and decentralisation than blockchain people do.

That's neither here nor there though.

The way you kill Facebook, Google and any Web2 company is to kill their business model. These are all 100% ad-funded businesses. Kill the advertising funded internet and these monopolies categorically die with it.

The only _attempt_ I've ever seen at addressing the issue that all the major websites are ad-funded has been within the blockchain space. Show me any other realistic alternative to ad-funding and I will happily adopt it.

+1
meheleventyone17 hours ago
meotimdihia17 hours ago

how about https://github.com/oneclickdapp/ethereum-auth

And decentralized storage coins for example.

Bitcoin can solve USD monopoly.

And a lot of other examples...

+1
democracy13 hours ago
usrbinbash18 hours ago

And how does a distributed Ledger solve these problems?

Monopolies like Google and Facebook exist, in no small part, because the amount of computation and data they handle is vast, and they have the data centers to deal with that.

How much data gets has to be stored on the servers of such services? Per second? I'd assume its in the range of several GiB...again per second.

Okay, so how does the blockchain compare to that? Ethereum can store data, each byte requires about 600 of its "gas" computational equivalent. A block represents 30,000,000 gas, 1 block is generated every 15sec, so we can store a grand total of about 1MiB every 300 seconds...that is, if none of the gas is used for anything other than storing data, which means, no other computations running.

So how is "blockchain technology" going to solve the problems that come from such highly centralized services exactly?

ique17 hours ago

Monopolies like Google and Facebook exist because of advertising. Remove advertising and they don't exist.

The fact that they're processing a lot of data is in large part because they need to for advertising.

Still, your understanding of blockchain tech is misleading here. Ethereum is public key registry at best and is not and should not be used to store or process data.

In a blockchain world you can still have service providers, but the user is the one with the power, not the service provider. Users are free to switch service providers as they see fit because their identity and data isn't tied to a single company.

usrbinbash15 hours ago

> Remove advertising and they don't exist.

Remove advertising and the amount of users for most social networks drops to oblivion, because barely anyone wants to spend money every time they post a picture of their cat.

> The fact that they're processing a lot of data is in large part because they need to for advertising.

They need large amounts of storage because millions of hours of video & audio, billions of food-pictures, tens of billions of lines of text, and a megagagazillion of references on who-like-clicked-what-when, take up a lot of storage.

> and is not and should not be used to store or process data.

Well then, what should be used? What decentralized storage solution can handle something like youtube, where 500 HOURS of video were uploaded PER MINUTE in feb. 2020?

And storing is half the deal. The solution also has to have high availability, consistency, low latency, and needs to be environmentally sound.

+1
dmitriid17 hours ago
x86_64Ubuntu18 hours ago

There's quite a bit of distance between blockchain tech and preventing Facebook/Google monopolies isn't there? And as long as blockchain tech has some dependency on capital investment, your better funded outfits are always going to have the terrain tilted in their favor.

ique17 hours ago

If it has dependency on capital investment, it's not blockchain tech. Like almost by definition. Unless you adopt a super dumb idea of "blockchain = linked list". If you're talking about more than the data structure then what you're saying makes no sense.

obstacle118 hours ago

> Talk to anyone who works in the industry and they're trying to solve a problem.

Sure. But are those problems worth solving? How many VCs does the world need to pump cash into NFT-enabled video games before we ask the question, "why?"

https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/22/nba-top-shot-creator-dappe...

ique17 hours ago

What makes a problem worth solving exactly?

How many SaaS businesses do we need? How many todo apps do we need? How many game engines do we need?

democracy16 hours ago

I am trying to solve world's hunger with my OpenGL game using 8080 assembler. I think I am getting somewhere...

ique16 hours ago

Good luck! I hope you succeed, it’s certainly a goal worth pursuing!

The_rationalist11 hours ago

Well they might be able to render food thanks to you.

jjtheblunt20 hours ago

the final paragraph seems to summarize the article :

"The more you think about it, the more “it’s early days!” begins to sound like the desperate protestations of people with too much money sunk into a pyramid scheme, hoping they can bag a few more suckers and get out with their cash before the whole thing comes crashing down."

epinephrinios7 hours ago

Future will tell. But the author is either acting on bad faith or they are not informed on the innovations that happened since then and are currently happening in the crypto space. And I am not even focusing on NFTs but on hardcore crypto stuff such as multisig and zero-knowledge proof protocols.

chx1 hour ago

Memorable moments from interacting with the Internet -- and web3

It's 1993. We are given a tour of the university I just got admitted to. I peel off the group at the physics building where the university VAX is. Something, something Internet. What is that. I get an account. I begin to use Usenet and IRC where I can talk to people so far away. Usability of these are on par with any other application (say, WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS) at the time. My mind is immediately blown. No one needs to give a pitch how useful or how fundamentally different this is to anything we had prior.

It's 2006. I began travelling the world, settling in Canada in 2008. I can chat with family for free. Later, even do video calls. I remember the weekends when we wrote a letter to my uncle who moved to the United States in the 80s. It took months to get a reply. Phone calls were rare and short. By the time my grandfather passed in 2011, my uncle was talking to him daily for a long time for free -- thanks to the 'Net.

It's 2007. I am wintering out in Israel. Moving around is very challenging, as I don't read Hebrew and I don't drive.

It's 2015. I am again in Israel. For a week, every night I sleep in a different apartment, booked online. Moving around is trivial, my phone tells me where and when to get on and off buses.

It's 2022. This a quote from someone touting the advances in the so called crypto"currency" space:

> Today, you have sharded blockchains, triple entry bookkeeping, proof of stake, blockchains that handle incentivized file storage, alternate name lookup systems, purchasing compute power on an automated order book, liquidity pools (a major, major fintech advancement if you're not familiar with then), arbitrary code execution with a canonical record of it.

Excuse me for being skeptical about web3.

janandonly14 hours ago

I never understand critiques like these.

> "somehow no one appears to have managed to find a positive use for blockchains that wouldn’t be better served by blockchainless technologies"

There is now a sovereign nation state that accepted Bitcoin as a currency, and, mark my words, no doubt more will follow this 2022.

Replacing central banks, and by extension, their grasp on the limitless money printing, is the whole reason why bitcoin and it's blockchain exist. And it is working wonderfully well.

People in countries where the central bankers and politicians are letting them down are flocking to bitcoin and other later inventions (such as stable coins).

Just check these countries:

- Lebanon: https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2020/2/25/distrust-in-leba...

- Turkey: https://etfdb.com/crypto-channel/as-turkey-lira-falls-bitcoi...

> "Rampant inflation is once again plaguing Turkey’s local currency, the lira, but one saving grace could be its citizens using bitcoin to supplant the plunging fiat currency."

- Also Turkey: https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/turkeys-inflation-is-an-exam...

- El Salvador: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/09/el-salvador-bi...

- And El Salvador again: https://bitcoinmagazine.com/culture/bitcoin-el-salvador-geop...

throwaway98700k13 hours ago

By all accounts the adoption of that tech in El Salvador has been a disaster, the app is slow, buggy, not everyone has access and it’s easily exploitable for crime. Protests against it. Etc. I anticipate a reversal of this by the next government. Current governments cannot admit mistakes, so it’ll take a new term for it to be dismantled.

b0ner_t0ner11 hours ago

> has been a disaster, the app is slow, buggy, not everyone has access and it’s easily exploitable for crime

Sounds like early 2000s online shopping to me.

notpachet10 hours ago

Sounds like current online shopping...

suzzer997 hours ago

There may not be a next govt in El Salvador for a while. Their populist president seems intent on staying in power by any means necessary.

epinephrinios7 hours ago

Uhm it might be hard to use but I completely reject the "exploitable for crime" part. Actually Bitcoin payments are a blessing for all those people that had to physically travel to Western Union branches to receive cash from abroad. Gangs frequently targeted such poor individuals and stole their cash. Bitcoin fixed this.

Passthepeas9 hours ago

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nayib_Bukele#Presidential_appr... I keep hearing this line, and yet Bukele's approval rating is over 80%

SanJacobs12 hours ago

Yes, I agree, and this is all very cool, however regarding this point:

> There is now a sovereign nation state that accepted Bitcoin as a currency, and, mark my words, no doubt more will follow this 2022.

Sure. That's true, but doesn't actually matter, imo., because the point of crypto is to:

> Replac[e] central banks, and by extension, their grasp on the limitless money printing

So approval from the government in the case of crypto is worth about as much as it is for making love. It's the losing side of a game saying "You know what, we'll be so gracious as to allow you to win". Never needed your permission to begin with.

PretzelPirate12 hours ago

You’re referencing the point of Bitcoin, not the point of crypto. Other platforms aren’t interested in destroying the existing financial system and would much rather digitize it and make it open to everyone.

WesternWind13 hours ago

I mean a significant portion of the world's money is created by fractional reserve banking.

lottin13 hours ago

Not just a significant portion, the vast majority of money in circulation is money created by commercial banks, not central banks. For example, in 2007, Euros issued by the ECB accounted for less than 15% of the supply of Euros (M1): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractional-reserve_banking#/me...

mirzap18 hours ago

Well, 10y ago is not ages ago. Email existed for 30 years before it was ready for consumers. Same is with the internet. Certain types of technologies require decades research and development. I would argue that in 20 years it will still be "early days" of blockchain. And only in mid 40 we will figure out apps and who nows what to fully utilize underlining technology. Right now we are just coping what we have outside of blockchain and put it on the blockchain. Same as people couldn't imagine how internet could possibly transform their business and life, we now can't imagine how Bitcoin and blockchain will transform our business and life in the future. It's too early.

_fizz_buzz_17 hours ago

I'd say with email the application was always crystal clear: It's like sending a letter, but electronically and therefore instantly. This must have been obvious to everyone in that space even 40 years ago. Maybe it wasn't obvious how big email would be one day, but there were definitely no doubts about what it would be used for. As someone who is trying to understand the applications of "crypto", it is very frustrating to hear stuff like "we now can't imagine how Bitcoin and blockchain will transform our business and life in the future". Please give me something! If we can't imagine it, maybe there is nothing there.

runeks11 hours ago

The application of Bitcoin is also crystal clear: distributed, digital money. It’s like gold, but electronic, and therefore much faster/cheaper in certain scenarios (and slower/more expensive in others).

Reasonable people disagree on whether this application is actually something we need, or will need in the future. But the application is clear as day.

jakupovic14 hours ago

Email is also used for authentication, all those 6 digit codes that come in for 2fa are doing so. Definitely not something that was imagined 40 years go.

kingofspain13 hours ago

Not too dissimilar to getting your bank card and PIN in separate letters. Just much, much quicker.

onion2k18 hours ago

we now can't imagine how Bitcoin and blockchain will transform our business and life in the future

40 years ago people on the cutting edge of tech had VHS video recorders to record broadcast TV. The tech grew slowly, became the dominant standard, and after 15 years in the mid-90s they were everywhere. 25 years later no one has one, or wants one, or even has an equivalent.

Don't assume too much about the future based on the present. Things can change in strange and unexpected ways.

I'm not saying Bitcoin and blockchain won't be around in 2040. They may well be. I'm saying current trends aren't a particularly good predictor of the future. They're wrong more often than they're right.

mojuba17 hours ago

It might be that the idea is too complex to be viable or useful. The graveyard of technologies created in the past decades stretches to the horizon, so if something doesn't work after 10 years doesn't mean it will work in the future. This is kind of obvious.

Specifically with blockchain my intuition is that, if its main selling points - immutability and decentralization - are already invalidated in the early days (10 years that is), the chances that it will recover are slim.

Complex tech tends to centralize to become cheaper. Also immutability is very problematic in terms of the right-to-forget and also in terms of illegal content and illegal operations.

Email's purpose and utility was super-obvious from day one, we just had to figure out how to make it more secure. Notice how email too became centralized, however.

unityByFreedom18 hours ago

Email required everyone to have a computer, plus infrastructure to connect them.

Blockchain has been waiting on a useful implementation since inception.

mirzap18 hours ago

No. Email didn't have useful implementation (UI) until 30y after it was invented. Only geeks and tech savy people were able to use it because it was not so easy to use. Sending messages was really hard, sending would often fail. So you would say, 25y after email inception there was no useful implementation and no usage by consumers, so technology is worthless. And there were people who were saying that, I'm sure. Same was with the internet.

Uehreka17 hours ago

Until 1998, my middle class American family didn’t have internet. I was a rather tech-curious kid, but until we actually had a second phone line run to our house and a new Gateway computer and a modem, there was this huge barrier to what I could learn about on our airgapped Windows 3.1 machine. My Dad was able to navigate the command line because he’d needed to on our previous DOS computer, so I feel like he could’ve handled email if we’d had a connection back then. I’d argue that infrastructure was a pretty big barrier to email catching on, not just the UI.

+2
meheleventyone17 hours ago
larsiusprime19 hours ago

Kelsey Hightower said it best: https://twitter.com/kelseyhightower/status/14778718907230781...

"If something is too early to criticize it's also too early to evangelize."

bb8818 hours ago

Not if you have a heavy investment and depend upon other investors (or greater fools) to buy your shares.

quickthrower216 hours ago

But it’s not too early to be a cult

mritchie71213 hours ago

Any sane web3 proponent would agree with this statement. Only the scammers wouldn't.

Sane people interested in web3 don't evangelize and are totally aware of and agree with most of the criticisms. If you criticized Ethereum as being expensive and inefficient, you'd get head nods from people that understand the space and pointed to projects that are trying to fix those issues.

lolinder10 hours ago

The problem is that when a space becomes dominated by the insane people, it's the insane people who drive its future. Any hope for a sane web3 depended on the hype starting after there was an actual use case. As it stands, web3's Eternal September began before the foundations were even laid, and it's going to be very difficult to retrofit them.

mw8889 hours ago

That’s absolute nonsense. Scammers and grifters making vaporware projects have no significant influence on the projects who spend their budget on development rather than marketing.

What you just said is “all these novice basketball players training the wrong techniques is a dire problem for those training effectively.” No it’s not, if anything investments in actual projects during relative, senseless mania is cheaper and easier than it ever was.

lolinder2 hours ago

The analogy to basketball falls short because the narrative surrounding basketball is driven by the pro teams. It doesn't matter that there are millions more amateurs than there are pros because all the money and power lies with the pros. The pros dominate the space even while being a minority.

In web3, the amateurs are the majority and control the narrative. The space is dominated by people who make promises they can't deliver on and found companies that disappear in a year. When those are the people who control the narrative, it's impossible for the sane folks to prevent them from sullying the field's reputation until no one else will touch it.

Dwolb19 hours ago

IMO L1 (Ethereum, Solana, Fantom, etc.) development is closer to building out a communications or telco network.

From that “hard” technology perspective, it’s very early days. And the apps that run on top of these L1s are fully limited by L1 bandwidth, latency, and blockspace.

So, I think we’re in the pre-dial-up days for blockchains and will need a couple more orders of magnitude improvement to be (universally) on par with today’s app performance.

rileyphone17 hours ago

The information bandwidth on block based cryptocurrencies is far too low to support these deeper levels of complexity, and I doubt will ever get much better. Blockchains, despite being a distributed phenomenon, still centralize the flow of information into one stream, the chain. Ethereum, by my estimation, operates at around 7 kB/s, and Bitcoin at 2kB/s. These are clearly glacial speeds - think of how limited an internet connection at those speeds is. How will more informationally needy systems be constructed on top of so paltry a base? The problem is a blockchain's protocol must somehow coordinate the distributed actions of its participants, which are generally spread out across the world. By centralizing information in the chain, they are exhibiting the same intractable slowdown that we would see trying to emulate a brain on a CPU.

Dwolb12 hours ago

I think we’ll see if bandwidth and latency improvements bring more application development. Solana and Avalanche are orders of magnitude faster than Ethereum and their ecosystems are rapidly evolving.

Btw Solana founder is ex-Qualcomm and worked on embedded distributed (multi-core) systems and Avalanche founder implemented a faster more elegant consensus algorithm. Can hear them discussing technical aspects of development: https://open.spotify.com/episode/632rPGnMZlHag7DJ1SCDUV?si=F...

che_shirecat9 hours ago

read up on L2 chains - both optimistic roll-up and zk-rollups. this problem you are breaking down has been the subject of study and development for years now and is nearing implementation - https://www.gemini.com/cryptopedia/layer-2-scaling-zk-rollup...

magicjosh19 hours ago

Good stuff, so you would suggest to the author that their examples are too narrow. Perhaps that smartphones, Uber, and Facebook all represented somewhat minor "time has come" type innovations, whereas you see Bitcoin as a development more like the internet itself, and that instead we are in the Arpanet days.

(Disclosure I own Bitcoin and Ethereum)

Dwolb19 hours ago

Yeah narrow or just on a different layer/level of abstraction.

Yup my mental model is we’re either in Arpanet days or multiple-competing-DOS days.

Daishiman18 hours ago

Early day Arpanet was infinitely more useful than all of this blockchain stuff.

magicjosh19 hours ago

Are there any other examples of recent + long cycle developments? Solar? Electric vehicles?

Part of me has come to expect such fast development (Facebook, Uber, Yelp!), but other modern industries must have longer cycles I just am not paying attention.

+1
jakupovic14 hours ago
Dwolb18 hours ago
dmitriid14 hours ago

Yup. Of course everything that has "blockchain in it is "the next internet".

Now this ridiculous claim is taken further: it's not even the internet, but "the fundamental infrastructure of the internet".

Whereas all signs point to it being a Juicero, an Enron and an AT&T ISIS Mobile Wallet rolled into one.

chrischen18 hours ago

My purely anecdotal experience so far has been that crypto bulls have tended to be more business-y/finance type people and, even among technical people, the technical people who don’t actually know how a blockchain works. Not a good sign for the technology and its applications but I don’t think all crypto is useless… but a lot of the hype is definitely by people trying to get rich quick with a hand-wavy understanding of the technology.

A lot of people missed out on Bitcoin early days… best way to cash in is to fork it and voila, the crypto Cambrian explosion where most of the forks will eventually die off.

mw8888 hours ago

Exposure bias. Who are you going to see more? The thoughtful coder and innovator who spends their time working on problems, or the excited businessman telling everyone about that work? Even the more outgoing founders are overshadowed by influencer types, and that’s not surprising at all.

One dichotomy I have noticed in crypto is that non-involved “tech” people seem to understand crypto and the big picture much more slowly than economically minded people (no, not just speculators). People don’t usually understand that crypto currencies are an economic innovation using cryptographic primitives, though more recently the space has started driving cryptographic innovation as well.

democracy16 hours ago

"Crypto" shat itself in the area of payments (noone really needs or wants it and it provides 0 value), so now they are trying other angles - NFT, DeFi. The problem is the crypto influencers are losing touch with reality. You could at least bullshit someone clueless about cryptocurrency and payments, but it's really hard to sell the idea of collecting JPEGs or investing into DeFi (which aggressively described in the terms of a classic ponzi scheme for some reason) to the general public.

mw8888 hours ago

Ahh yes the “they” in crypto. The same “they” that people like you used to say would ‘turn it off whenever they wanted’ a few years ago.

jakupovic14 hours ago

So the people buying houses with crypto have dirty pants? Or in El Salvador, where BTC is on par with USD, they all have dirty pants? Please re-read your comment before publicly posting, as this is not advancing conversation, nor adding anything, but only exposes your narrowly held (wrong) beliefs.

democracy12 hours ago

El Salvador doesn't have its own national currency at all. And yes, imaginary people paying for houses in bitcoin is another example of a crazy meaningless argument. Maybe there is one or two, who knows. I think more people pay for properties in camels or Vodka bottles if we really search.

baby16 hours ago

That’s not how it happened. Crypto is seeing a lot of technical advances. At the same time, people find different ways to build on top of it.

democracy12 hours ago

One man's advance is another man's dead end.

baby7 hours ago

One man observes while the other keeps moving

magpi313 hours ago

The hype around the blockchain reminds me of the hype around XML around 2000. People were blown away by the potential... but no one could quite demonstrate it with a product. Now the blockchain can point to cryptocurrencies as a success story, and XML can kind of point to HTML, but it is a reminder that real change in tech happens when someone comes out with a product where the rubber meets the road. When everyone is talking potential potential potential, I am very skeptical.

stupidworld19 hours ago

In the same time, India & China got mobile payment revolution. 4b+ transcations per month are done in India.

Well which means 3B people dont ever need crypto.

baby16 hours ago

Ah they can send money abroad easily?

ir12312 hours ago

I send money abroad using Wise though I'd be happier with a publicish API.

Why would I in my right mind use crypto? Im not doing anything illegal and I'm not ideologically opposed to paying my taxes.

baby7 hours ago

I’d say continue to use Wise now. No reason to switch UNLESS you get faster transaction, lower fee, less risk, and it’s more practical to do a crypto transfer. I believe if you join the novi beta today this might be the case if you want to send $$ to Guatemala. For the rest of the world: Early days my friend.

Ekaros15 hours ago

How often they need to? How often average person actual does that? Maybe there just isn't that big of an market there outside things like web payments. Or a market that doesn't involve complexities of dealing with money...

fragmede7 hours ago

Just because you ~never do, doesn't mean there's no market. In this case, there's a huge market for remittances, on the order of hundreds of billion (USD) in 2020 for the industry globally. Every immigrant with family back home is saving local currency and sending as much as they can back home because of the difference in exchange rate. The incumbent players aren't very good, having been created before the Internet. Western Union is still a choice in this area, though it's worth noting that they did close down their telegram service in 2006. Whether cryptocurrencies are competitive in this area depends on if theres a way locally to get local cash for crypto. In countries where this illegal, it's a bit harder to do so, and the old ways are still the best, depending on how high the service fees are.

baby7 hours ago

Depends on the people I’d say. There’s definitely a market.

friedman2318 hours ago

Not related to blockchain but just an interesting difference in perspective. Using 2010 to refer to "ages ago" is almost comical. The internet was created in the 60s and I'd say 2000-2010 was still early days for the internet. So saying something is old because it was created 10 years ago is just ridiculous.

jopsen15 hours ago

2000-2010 internet companies had to actually have revenue, or have users or some value.

Before the dot-com bubble there was hype about anything involving the internet.

Just like today, any business plan involve blockchain is awesome.

disruptalot16 hours ago

It's truly incredible that people still confidently proclaim that there is "no use case" today.

Because of the technical nature of the underlying tech, it's hard for the average individual to recognise how and why it's different. However, it's not possible to explain away the particular applications and their properties.

Here are 2 use cases which are live and working today:

-Taking a collaterised USD loan without permission or interference from a third party.

- Creating a public digital object which lives forever and can be exchangeable and extendable without a third party involved.

The immediate response from critics then is to question the validity of the use case. But that requires to admit that the use case is there.

gizmo15 hours ago

Presumably you’re talking about a loan against an NFT or other crypto asset. But taking a loan against a financial asset is already really easy. Does loaning against a house, car or stock portfolio get any easier with crypto? I don’t see how.

The digital object in your second example is just a hyperlink or a hash, because the digital object itself won’t fit on the blockchain. And there is no link between digital and meat space identity, which means it’s exchangeable but not between people.

disruptalot13 hours ago

This is the perfect example of a critic response and exactly the phenomenon I'm describing.

On 1, you're somehow conveniently ignoring the "without permission or interference from a third party.". I never mentioned against a car, stock, or house. Nonetheless the functionality still exists. Using ETH or other crypto assets. It gets so much easier. Have you tried it? No talking to advisors, no documents, no discriminatory requirements. Pretty much 1 click and 30 seconds. Fully expect the next question of validity "aha! Well that's against a useless asset!".

2nd example. Yes it can be a hyper link or a hash, is there something particularly wrong with that? The use case I described has still been achieved, it's a digital object. Are you really questioning that people exchange assets using a digital identity? I'm not sure how that invalidates the use case.

By the way you're incorrect that digital objects don't fit on the Blockchain. First it depends which Blockchain. Second, there are some objects that do fit. Look at ENS. A domain name, address mapping fits on the chain. That is an NFT. That exists today.

hartator12 hours ago

> without permission or interference from a third party

Aren’t other nodes the third parties?

If you are talking automated loan, you should look into credit lines backed by assets. Pledge assets lines. Once open, it’s fully automated and you don’t need to interact with a third party either.

+1
disruptalot11 hours ago
jakupovic14 hours ago

>>The immediate response from critics then is to question the validity of the use case. But that requires to admit that the use case is there.

rauljordan20209 hours ago

This comment assumes that the world == the developed world. Crypto offers borderless access that does not exist in today's world for many millions of people. In my country, getting a loan is near impossible, but no one can stop people from taking a loan against their ETH or stablecoins

Ekaros15 hours ago

I could already easily get uncollaterised loan, just a text message away...

And if I have a collateral in form of fungible crypto why do I need to loan against it? Specially when I could just sell it and use the money...

jakupovic14 hours ago

Because you're taking a loan against it, duh. Therefore you want to keep it. Just like taking a line of credit against your house. You don't sell your house immediately.

RivieraKid10 hours ago

But you can't use it to buy stuff. You can use a house.

bratwurst300016 hours ago

Thirst one…link? And still less efficient then Cryptofree technologie. Second thats how crypto works … thats not a use case cryptobro ;)

mNovak19 hours ago

The author's description of 2015 doesn't sound like some ancient era to me.. Have things moved on and changed so dramatically from ML hype, Microsoft Edge, Apple Watch, and ES6?

I'm not really here to argue about blockchains being good or not, I just don't feel great about how the article tosses out a body of technology for not keeping pace with Uber. It's a bit like saying it can't possibly be early days for reusable rocketry, mm-wave communications, or quantum tech, because all those things were being developed decades before some guy named Satoshi wrote a very popular blog post.

Uehreka16 hours ago

Regarding ES6: Definitely. It used to be that there’d be a new JS framework every week, and the language was rapidly evolving to catch up with over 10 years of programming language innovation. No change to the language as big as ES6 has happened since, and the Cambrian Explosion of frameworks has largely subsided.

Nowadays things are way more stable. I’m sure someone will pop in and mention how their workplace just changed from Webpack to Vite, or how hard it is to keep track of Angular, React and Vue. To which I’d chuckle and note that when I got started in 2014 we had AngularJS, Ember, React, Backbone, Knockout, Google FOAM, Polymer, OJ.js and Aurelia (which emerged as Google announced that AngularJS 1.x would be deep-sixed and Angular 2 would essentially be a totally different framework). To build/bundle your app you would use one or more of Grunt, Gulp, Brunch, Webpack, Browserify, 6to5, Traceur Google Closure Compiler and/or RequireJS (so far we’re assuming you’re not using CoffeeScript, ClojureScript, or one of their downstream variants like IcedCoffeeScript).

dreamcompiler3 hours ago

I've started telling my tech-following friends and relatives: Whenever you hear somebody say "Web 3.0" you should think "YABS" (Yet Another Blockchain Scam).

History will not be kind to @pmarca for promoting this shite.

mizzao19 hours ago

How's this any different than the typical technology hype and adoption cycle? Perhaps we are just at the "peak of inflated expectations" right now, and are about to dive into the "trough of disillusionment".

https://setandbma.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/technology-ado...

This certainly happened with AI at least twice... remember the AI summers of 1970 and 2010 and the AI winters in between...before certain applications of machine learning became industrial tools.

I'm personally in agreement with the author that crypto is probably a waste of energy and a way to scam people, but I can look at the 30,000 foot view and admit there might be some applications in the future as we climb the "slope of enlightenment".

My wife recently suggested a possible one: NFTs minted by your university as proof of your diploma. Or perhaps your academic transcript. No way to forge a fake diploma again.

ryandamm19 hours ago

> My wife recently suggested one: NFTs minted by your university as proof of your diploma. Or perhaps your academic transcript. No way to forge a fake diploma again.

This is once again better served by a database. Diplomas are inherently centralized and issued by a trusted authority.

Guess we gotta keep brainstorming for use cases -- that's how technology development works, right?

mw8888 hours ago

What makes you think you can’t sign as a trusted authority a decentralized object? Maybe before you condescend you should learn the utter basics of what you are talking about.

Kinrany18 hours ago

The university can shut down, suffer data loss or get hacked. Decentralized storage is an improvement.

No sense in diplomas being transferable though.

meheleventyone16 hours ago

No need for a blockchain though. The University can just key-sign the diploma. Then the user can choose to keep it wherever they like.

scotty7918 hours ago

Is it the time to invent NTTs? Non-transferable tokens?

TylerE18 hours ago

Except NFT storage is actually highly centralized?

What happens if OpenSea shuts down?

+1
che_shirecat9 hours ago
somebodythere19 hours ago

> Guess we gotta keep brainstorming for use cases -- that's how technology development works, right?

Unironically, yes.

ryandamm19 hours ago

I'll grant you that sometimes there's just such a cool tech that you gotta hammer your head against the wall until you find something worth using it for. And sometimes maybe that creates something awesome (though I can't conjure anything at the moment.) I think that's usually a money-loser, and someone else building something like 140 character messaging ends up making the money.

In general though, I believe solving real-world problems with whatever tech is available creates the most value. (And I mean real value, not some numbers on a ledger that don't mean anything at all.) That doesn't mean tech for tech's sake isn't interesting.

paldepind219 hours ago

> NFTs minted by your university as proof of your diploma. Or perhaps your academic transcript. No way to forge a fake diploma again.

The problem with this an many similar examples is that there already exists a solution for this sort of authenticity problem: digital signatures. Basically, the university creates a public and secret key pair, makes the public key available on its website, and signs all diplomas with its secret key. This is a much more efficient solution than the one based on blockchain.

Ekaros15 hours ago

Or is that a problem in first place. If someone really wanted to check your diploma. They could ask a proof of permission from you and then contact the issuer...

somebodythere19 hours ago

A cryptographically signed diploma could be sufficient for this use case, no specific need to commit it to a ledger. Certainly the transferability property of NFTs is not desired in this case.

foepys19 hours ago

Yes, a machine readable section on the diploma, like a QR code, would suffice here.

Covid vaccination certificates in the EU use this method. No blockchain required, just some good old public/private key cryptography.

hvmonk19 hours ago

"My wife recently suggested a possible one: NFTs minted by your university as proof of your diploma. Or perhaps your academic transcript. No way to forge a fake diploma again."

This is already happening: https://www.5gnewsroom.com/2022/01/12/iit-kanpur-awards-bloc...

EdSchouten14 hours ago

> My wife recently suggested a possible one: NFTs minted by your university as proof of your diploma. Or perhaps your academic transcript. No way to forge a fake diploma again.

You could already do this using x509 certificates signed by a university owned CA. No need to use blockchain here.

j4yav18 hours ago

Why would people want to be able to sell unique receipts of having acquired their diplomas to each other?

magicjosh19 hours ago

Did Moore ever talk about the time length of such cycles? I imagine it differs from industry to industry. Is blockchain on a 10 year cycle like Uber/Facebook, or a longer cycle?

(Disclosure I own Bitcoin and Ethereum)

ryandamm19 hours ago

The hype cycle isn't Moore, it's Gartner -- the research firm.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gartner_hype_cycle

magicjosh19 hours ago

Same question I suppose. The parent diagram featured both the hype cycle and Moore's chasm. Do they both operate on different timescales or are they usually a decade end-to-end?

ryandamm19 hours ago

Honestly? I think it's similar to a lot of pop-business constructions. Post hoc, and it sounds insightful enough to inspire pattern matching, but doesn't actually have any real explanatory power.

Anecdotally, I have heard people applying different timescales for the hype cycle for different technologies. Makes the pattern that much easier to match.

magicjosh19 hours ago

The article suggests that using the phrase "it's early days" is incorrect in blockchain technology because Bitcoin and Ethereum have been around for 13 and 6 years respectively.

The author goes on to give examples like smartphones, Uber, and Tesla, all of which have had serious developments in terms of impact and usability in around the same time period. Then given that Bitcoin and Ethereum have not made similar progress in that time period suggests it is not "early days".

Users continue to get scammed and lose funds. So what is it instead? Middle days? End of life? Pre-early days?

Open to ideas here. The author seems to suggest that what we're seeing in blockchains is the best we're going to get out of it. If Bitcoin were middle aged, would users put up with all the warts knowing they won't go away?

(Disclosure I own Bitcoin and Ethereum)

cuteboy1919 hours ago

It will always be "early days". Crypto requires a constant influx of marks who genuinely believe that they are early, as a ponzi scheme only ever benefits early entrants. No crypto enthusiast is ever going to tell that you are late.

mw8888 hours ago

Crypto does not require any such action. Likewise no dogmatic crypto skeptic like yourself will ever tell you you are early. Stay poor.

magicjosh19 hours ago

For a pyramid scheme that certainly holds up. Whoever joins last seems most incentivized to bring others in. Has anyone modeled pyramid scheme dynamics to Bitcoin perhaps at an academic level?

(Disclosure I own Bitcoin and Ethereum)

smokey_circles18 hours ago

I don't understand how bitcoin is a ponzi scheme. There's no pyramid shape, which is kind of crucial. "Just look at the whales" uh huh, you mean like the dollar?

It's just a value store. Debating the efficacy of the value store is fine, labeling it a ponzi scheme seems reductive to absurdity.

The real problem (unsurprisingly) is with fiat currencies. These are heavily regulated, nearly made up values. That crash, often. We put handbrakes on the systems (see gamestop, mortgage debt crisis etc) because of how unsafe they can be.

If we trade goods for fiat currency, we put handbrakes and regulations there too.

The bitcoin/fiat exchange is merely proof why we need these regulations. Until it (the crypto/fiat intersection) is regulated, it's not gonna look and feel like what we're used to.

There are good criticisms to be made of bitcoin (like how centralized most mining operations are, the community's constant in-fighting and many more). It's drowned out by daft arguments like pollution (that's a whole other economic sectors fault) and ponzi schemes.

Maybe other coins could be construed that way (again, regulations required) but not bitcoin.

+1
landslide17 hours ago
magicjosh8 hours ago

Appreciate your response here. I also find the "pyramid scheme" framing to fall short. But I'm no expert, I welcome a rigorous analysis by someone with a background in ponzi and pyramid schemes. (Disclosure own btc and etc)

Daishiman18 hours ago

The fiat currency whataboutism as a defense of crypto is the most tired and ignorant pedantry I can think of.

bawolff6 hours ago

While i agree, ultimately i don't think it would matter if it was.

Either you have a product that does something interesting or you don't. I don't think it matters at what stage you have the interesting thing at.

(Fwiw, i don't find recent blockchain interesting)

low_tech_love16 hours ago

The problem is that we’re still in the phase of “it’s good because it’s blockchain” so people are trying to get in early to make some free bucks. It will only work when someone comes up with a decentralized product backed by blockchain that simply works, and users don’t even need to know it’s a blockchain. It needs to be a blockchain use case instead of attempts to retrofit the blockchain into current problems.

TekMol19 hours ago

Depends on how you define early.

When comparing the situation of crypto to the internet, I would say we are at around 1997 now. 1996 was the year when Yahoo went public and 2021 was the year when Coinbase went public.

The usability of crypto solutions also reminds me of 1997. It is still so bad that it makes them almost unusable. Reminds me of acoustic couplers where you had to manually plug your cable bound phone into some device and dial a number to connect to a bulletin box. Just that today the bad usablity looks very different. It has to do with complicated, privacy violating KYC processes, no standardized secure way to make a socially recoverable secret key, lightning network only used in very few places etc.

TCP/IP and DNS were both developed in the early 70s (1972 I think). So over 20 years before the first internet company went public.

So the adoption of the internet evolved more slowly than the adoption of crypto it seems. As the Coinbase IPO came already 13 years after the Bitcoin whitepaper.

inter_netuser18 hours ago

>1996 was the year when Yahoo went public and 2021 was the year when Coinbase went public.

>TCP/IP and DNS were both developed in the early 70s (1972 I think). That is more than 40 years before the first internet company went public.

1996 - 1972 = 24.

TekMol18 hours ago

Yay, fixing that!

joosters19 hours ago

TCP/IP and DNS were both developed in the early 70s (1972 I think). That is more than 40 years before the first internet company went public.

Is that really your belief about how to define when a technology became useful?

TekMol18 hours ago

The IPO of a company makes a nice reference point for several reasons:

- It is a specific point in time which is easy to look up

- To go public, a company needs a big amount of traction already

- A lot of data is published for the IPO

"Useful" is in the eye of the beholder. But how much the company is "used" can be approximated by its revenue.

Yahoo had $1.4 million in yearly revenue the year before it IPOed. Coinbase had $1.14 billion. So about a thousand times more. Even when adjusted for inflation, this should be one or two orders of magnitude more.

meheleventyone16 hours ago

Adoption of the Internet had serious pre-requisites in terms of the availability of computers in the general population so it’s not really surprising. One thing that was amazing about it was our ability to reuse existing networks to connect them all together.

TekMol16 hours ago

I would say the pre-requisites are just as high this time. Just very different.

At least you could buy a computer in the 90s.

In my country, you cannot buy crypto anywhere. You have to go through some shady KYC process of a foreign company. Me and almost none of my friends are willing to do that.

And the very few who do are not willing to sell crypto to the others "Uuhhh no, go make your own Coinbase account."

The banks are all "Yeah, we are working on it. We don't know yet when we will offer it. It will take time to figure out the legal and technical aspects.".

Ekaros15 hours ago

I thought that crypto was supposed to be easy money transfer to absolutely anyone in the world. For nearly "free". A member of unfounded Amazon rainforest tribe could buy it and send it to for some service a Somalian farmer... For very tiny fee... Then somehow each would be able to convert it from their local currency...

meheleventyone16 hours ago

But crypto currencies are not the only potential use of blockchains right?

+1
TekMol15 hours ago
insaider13 hours ago

I've been against the whole blockchain space for some time but I only just realised the one big positive to come from it - a new market.

I think that's why it's become so popular, you can actually invest in ideas just as they're being born now. The stock market is a marvel but the barrier to entry for companies is insane. It's also why there's so much money flowing through VC channels these days.

I'm just hoping the resolution to these issues that sticks, a proper market for investing in early stage startups, is created outside of the blockchain.

ramoq18 hours ago

I wonder if this will be one of the “Show HN: Dropbox” type threads in a few years…

FledNanders11 hours ago

It's all about consensus and enforcement. The courts hold power because we all agree (actively or passively) that the decisions made by the courts are legitimate. We choose to keep our citizenships and pay taxes to enforce these decisions with coercive/violent means (police). If people lose faith in this arrangement and start disregarding the legal systems - e.g. if the police refuse to do their job - you could very well end up with blockchain officers taking their place and kicking down doors with the approval of the masses. For now, though, it doesn't really matter what you own on the blockchain because you have no shotgun to back it up (no legitimacy nor means of enforcement).

tomputer18 hours ago

Comparing Bitcoin with companies and software products is not a good comparison.

Replacing software or products is not the same as exchanging government-issued fiat money to a new decentralized non-governmental form of money. The transition between different forms of money depends on trust which takes time[1]. E-mail and internet (web) took of faster but these inventions did not require people to exchange their money into an alternative system.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_money

personjerry18 hours ago

This article feels like it's just riding the crypto bandwagon for clicks.

The "early days" of something is relative to the lifespan of the thing. If crypto lasts for the next 1000 years then yes we are very much in the early days.

Moreover, a label like "early days" is entirely irrelevant, because really the question that needs to be asked is "Is it still changing, evolving, growing?" Based on what I've seen (I'm not a crypto enthusiast) the answer seems to be yes.

xtat5 hours ago

Blockchain denialism is the new remote work denialism

scotty7918 hours ago

I guess I'm old bacause all the he things listed as exapmle how far away was 2009 and especially 2015 feel new or at least newish to me.

SCAQTony19 hours ago

Very precise criticisms. I wish she would have mention her thoughts on proof-of-stake blockchains.

usrbinbash17 hours ago

PoS blorkchains do not solve the first problem completely (they still require an obscene amount of power to do something that can be done way more efficient) but implement an entirely new kind of problem: The more tokens someone already had, the higher his chances in the "stake-lottery".

Essentially, PoS makes sure that "he who has the gold makes the rules" becomes hardwired in the system, instead of only being a side effect of it.

baby16 hours ago

No they don’t. They’re pretty green.

usrbinbash15 hours ago

"pretty green" is not a unit of measurement.

How "green" something is, is determined by how much resources one unit of what it does uses, compared to how much resources doing the same unit of work on an alternative system uses.

eg. a petroleum lantern produces light more efficiently than a campfire. However, neither of them is "pretty green" compared to a LED.

Compare the amount of energy per transaction required with a PoS system to the amount of energy required to do it with, say, a credit card.

+1
miracle2k13 hours ago
streetcat120 hours ago

interest rate at 2-4 % will do the trick. not so long.

babyshake19 hours ago

Apparently high levels of debt will really limit the amount rates can be increased. This is something I have heard from crypto investors, but also from people who dislike Bitcoin.

vorhemus18 hours ago

To me, the most promising use cases for a blockchain would be activities that are today carried out by government agencies, states or lawyers. Anyone who has ever bought a property in central Europe knows how much money has to be spent on trustees and notaries. If such transactions can be carried out in a secure way between buyer and seller without an intermediary, that would be a huge win. However, the lobby of lawyers and notaries is big, the connections to politicians are tight and they will not give up this business easily. Additionally the public sector is not known for its fast technology adoption.

usrbinbash17 hours ago

Until the first person gets tricked into signing over his property for free...then suddenly, all these lawyers, agencies and notaries are back on the track again, because it turns out they were there for a good reason the entire time: To make sure its really really really hard to get someone to hand over his home via something like a typo or a misclick.

yashg17 hours ago

Code is law, until someone writs code to steal your monkey jpg or worse, a real house. Then you realize the law and lawyers were there for a reason.

unemphysbro11 hours ago

this article misses the forest for the trees.

it's the early days for smart contracts and applications like defi

once the barrier of entry drops in contract creation i suspect there will be exponential growth in exotic securities/financial-arbitration

kjgkjhfkjf20 hours ago

To be fair, it took decades for e-commerce on the web to become mainstream. Remember what a joke Webvan used to be in 2001?

obstacle119 hours ago

Didn't pg write Viacom (shopping cart software) in 1995, and sell it to Yahoo in 1997?

http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html

ajross19 hours ago

Uh, 2001 happens to be the year that Amazon became the biggest bookseller in the world, having been founded five years earlier. That's literally about as mainstream as you can get, and it was half a decade.

Whether or not you agree with the arc of the linked article, the basic facts are correct: blockchains have been with us for a decade now and haven't done much or made anything that wasn't itself a speculation about blockchain.

mw8888 hours ago

You call it speculation and that’s convenient for your argument. Bitcoin as a store of value is not speculative. It has objective qualities that make it valuable and you dismissing those as speculation lets you be ignorant to the comparable short term success of Bitcoin.

ajross4 hours ago

FWIW: a thing that has value only on a balance sheet is pretty much the definition of "speculation". I was saying that crypto and web3 hadn't produced any new kinds of economic activity beyond buying more crypto. The only reason to get involved in crypto now is to own crypto, just like it was a decade ago.

aiisahik19 hours ago

The blog post conflates several issues together:

(1) why is the blockchain still so inefficient?

(2) why is the blockchain still so lacking in practical use cases with widespread adoption?

I think she is totally fair in complaining about (1). Either it is impossible to have decentralization and efficiency or it's just a technical problem that will be solved given more time. I don't have the answer here - only time will tell.

For problem (2), I think it's mostly an over-exaggeration of the use case(s) where web3 that beats web2. As far as I can tell there is one and only one use case: web3 can do things while having a middle finger pointed at major governments. Web2 cannot. In that bitcoin and eth can offer people of Argentina a some reliable store of value (against their own currency which depreciates at 50% per year) it has generally achieved that. You can't even buy a Tesla in Argentina so the adoption of that wonderful technology there is zero.

To claim that it's the next web2 or mobile tech is both an exaggeration and an underestimate. Web3 will not be much of a challenge to web2 or mobile. Instead it will be a huge challenge to existing political, monetary and taxation systems. It will be the tool of the rich to evade taxes, for libertarians to evade control and for those living in high inflation countries to build wealth.

Those who complain that this is hardly revolutionary are both right and wrong.

neillyons16 hours ago

Reminds me of something Elon Musk said. A lot of the content on the internet is a "projection of our limbic system". (Elon saying this https://youtu.be/ycPr5-27vSI?t=1074)

I see the craze around crypto the same way. It is a representation of something in our limbic system. Perhaps greed?

mw8888 hours ago

Why limit your theory to blockchain? “Craze” in general seems to be limbic in nature, but that’s common knowledge, isn’t it?

qaq19 hours ago

If there would be a legal framework in place that can tie a DAO to basically be legally binding bylaws of an actual org. and the smart contract lang. is expressive enough for this to work this would be extremely valuable. Outside of this most of web3 looks like hype.

lawtalkinghuman9 hours ago

The question is: does the legal framework override the results of the smart contracts and blockchain records? If so, you don't need the crypto. If the crypto cannot be overriden by the legal framework, you don't need the legal framework. Pure redundancy.

joosters19 hours ago

If there was a legal framework, it wouldn't be decentralised! ...and hence, it's pointless, since you could recreate it at much lower expense without the blockchain and associated speculative coins.

qaq19 hours ago

This has 0 to do with coins. Going through court systems can cost 10s of millions of dollars and someone actually has to actually bring the action to court.

zanek19 hours ago

Can you elaborate on what you mean by this ? Do you have any examples of what this could look like in practice ?

qaq19 hours ago

a very narrow example you are nonprofit in charge of .org TLD the DAO managing bylaws of that org have no provision for you to be able to sell .org TLD to a third party. You don't have to constantly worry that some ahole will take over the org and do this, because there is no way to do it.

mNovak19 hours ago

I believe Wyoming actually passed some laws along these lines, to where a DAO can be a legal entity.

qaq19 hours ago

Well I am def not a legal expert to know if it is sufficient for the above purpose and if we can ever create a lang for smart contracts that is expressive enough, but it's cool to see things are happening.

cuteboy1919 hours ago

so if we are depending on a centralized legal framework, why would we need the blockchain (decentralized store)? Wasn't Code supposed to be Law?

qaq19 hours ago

so we do not have to go through legal process to resolve anything

lawtalkinghuman9 hours ago

That's literally how things work now. ~99.99999999% of contractual agreements are not litigated. The legal process is there as a slow debugger when it all goes wrong. But most of the time, things don't go wrong and people work out their disputes without involving courts and judges.

bbddg18 hours ago

Law is not like code. It requires interpretation. You're nuts if you don't think most of these "smart contacts" wouldn't just end up in court anyways.

+1
qaq17 hours ago
rvz20 hours ago

So there is no progress in non Proof-of-Work coins today? Perhaps the author is saying that there are no blockchains that are being used as the basis of regulated stable-coins and CBDC projects that are being tested by central banks today?

I mean, the author is arguing as if Bitcoin, and Ethereum are the only blockchains that exist today. Hence why this is another blog-post that associates all cryptocurrencies having the same characteristics as Bitcoin, and Ethereum, which that isn't true and the author knows it.

This is all given that they 'claim' to have done 'research' even though they feel 'annoyed' by all of this. [0] If you are going to argue about cryptocurrencies and blockchains technologies in general, at least attack the current alleged 'state of the art' rather than using the same old arguments on the same old cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum) that everyone knows its faults already.

[0] https://blog.mollywhite.net/blockchain/

Jasper_20 hours ago

I spent some time looking into Proof-of-Stake coins. Specifically, the Proof-of-Stake system advocated by Tezos. Give it a lookover, it's actually a fairly quick read.

https://tezos.gitlab.io/active/proof_of_stake.html

Unfortunately, it's also very flawed, and nulls most of the security properties we thought we would get by switching to "Blockchain Technology": if someone captures 50% of this chain, it is quite easy and trivial to turn that into a full chain attack, since all future seed data comes from past chain data. The RNG is seeded deterministically, meaning a motivated attacker can maintain influence forever by maintaining control over the seed.

When you usually bring this up, people usually say "yeah, but it would be against the economics interests of the miners to crash their own coins". Aka, the technology isn't providing the security, we're back to the same "no banker would ever be evil enough to crash the economy for small economic gains" security that most cryptocurrency enthusiasts usually claim is evidence of corruption at work. So, no, I don't see what the blockchain is adding over a typical database.

I've tried multiple times to read through the Ethereum Proof-of-Stake FAQ [1], but I have a sneaking suspicion it's intentionally obfuscated, just so people like me bounce off of it.

[1] https://eth.wiki/concepts/proof-of-stake-faqs

baby20 hours ago

You should read into BFT protocols. Hotstuff is probably the reference today.

Jasper_20 hours ago

Maybe I should! Feel free to suggest links and papers. Part of the challenge is that some of these concepts are super varied in their implementation, despite having similar names, and I can only come to understand the tradeoffs of a complete system.

"Byzantine Fault Tolerance" is a huge umbrella term that covers a lot of different tactics and approaches, so I welcome recommendations for concrete systems to investigate.

EDIT: The reference to Hotstuff was added after I posted this reply. I'll investigate it.

baby17 hours ago

I have an explanation of it in the cryptocurrency chapter of https://www.manning.com/books/real-world-cryptography?a_aid=...

inter_netuser18 hours ago

Proof-of-Stake is just Plutocracy-on-Steroids.

PoW is the fundamental breakthrough. Yet, everyone is oblivious to that fact, a decade later.

It's amazing that people on a technology forum talk about proof of stake as something new. That's what basically DNS runs on, and it's been around since 1983.

Maybe it is still early indeed.

jrumbut19 hours ago

I don't think the complaint is about the lack of new ideas for coins. No shortage there.

There have been a lot of prototypes, trials, testing, and scams, but not a lot of hits.

The only major exceptions are the same old cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin and Ethereum) where the same old arguments still apply.

Part of the problem here is that, with no centralized authority, it takes much, much longer to make changes. Perhaps that's what the author is missing and that's why we're many years in without the kind of success you might expect for a web technology that's not destined for failure.

bsenftner13 hours ago

As this series of blog posts detailing why the crypto/bitcoin/ntf/web3 ecosystem is bad and wrong, I am continually reminded of two quotes from people worth listening to:

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

― Mark Twain

"Don't believe the hype!"

-Flavor Flav

freemanon19 hours ago

people have the tendency to quickly categorise things into "good" or "bad". as scammy as the crypto world is, there are a lot of potential uses for the blockchain. think fault-resistant backends, think open and transparent data flow and storage. "the early days" is subjective but in my opinion there are still so many things that'd run better if it were run on a blockchain instead of a traditional centralised server

nudpiedo7 hours ago

I don’t think the “early days” will be over until we can in fact see a few of the big projects crash and fail AND THEN some new projects survive and take over with killer products as we saw with the dot com bubble.

At the moment there are already some successful private blockchains, some of those the end user interacts without knowing about them.

harwoodleon18 hours ago

Platforms develop quickly.

Protocols develop slowly.

jakupovic15 hours ago

First video call was made in the 60s. It took 50+ years before it was ubitiquous.

marcellus2314 hours ago

Yeah but the advantages of video calling are obvious to anyone immediately. Same with the internet.

gcampos19 hours ago

Following the same logic, the late 90s were not the web “early days” because the web started in the early 90s

mikeg819 hours ago

Not really. The innovations in 90s web technologies solved more “real” problems and gained mass adoption. much different than the blockchain/crypto innovations of the past decade which are still used by a relatively small number of people.

rvz18 hours ago

Only due to the internet existing in the first place, which by the author's own logic, 'that wasn't new either'.

The World Wide Web was the 'killer app' for the internet (which that has been there for years before) in the early 1990s; perhaps even fuelling the dot-com boom. A decade after that, the whole market crashed.

The critics were celebrating, did the utility of the web stop? Nope. Only the scams and useless, overvalued websites died.

The same thing applies to just blockchain technology even beyond 'Bitcoin or Ethereum' where when the concept of that is not new. The regulations will come and eliminate the coins that do not comply and the useless cryptocurrencies or meme coins will be extinguished - probably will cause another crash again and eliminating more useless unregulated cryptocurrencies.

That is even before the regulatory framework has been even properly implemented. A few of these cryptocurrencies will survive all of that.

bernardv10 hours ago

Spot on.

bpodgursky20 hours ago

I'm not long on anything blockchain related.

But I don't understand why people get so invested in it being a scam or failure.

Maybe it is, and it'll all die. That's fine. Why do people spend so much time insisting that it's the inevitable outcome. Let it do its thing, find something better to do.

obstacle119 hours ago

> But I don't understand why people get so invested in it being a scam or failure.

Can't speak for everyone. But from my perspective, it's because certain "applications" are being marketed very heavily to non-technical people who aren't able to reasonably assess the viability of the technology. I'm thinking of NFTs in particular. The only other popularized non-NFT applications are cryptocurrencies, which are pure speculation (i.e., gambling).

In short, that's a moral issue. People were outraged by the Madoff scandal (and others), and this doesn't look a lot different to people who understand the underlying technology. Nobody wants their mom going broke because they bought some hyped-up blockchain thing on the advice of some super-hustler internet marketing influencer out looking to make a buck.

dorkwood4 hours ago

I was of the same mindset until this year when the pro-crypto crowd invaded the online art scene. Now I unfortunately can't avoid it, as much as I try, not matter how many keywords I mute.

I'd like to go back to ignoring it. But it looks like it's here to stay, and it's taken away one of the few things enjoyed about the internet. I guess I'm still moving through the anger and grief stages and am yet to reach acceptance.

Why couldn't they have just left art alone?

kelnos19 hours ago

Many of us believe all this stuff is incredibly harmful right now. Just standing back and ignoring it, rather than attempting to direct people away from it, will likely cause more harm.

Liron19 hours ago

Imagine all your friends were really into MLM schemes and even quitting their job to join Amway and Herbalife. Sure you can just ignore it, but you can understand it’s tempting to ask them what the hell.

kkjjkgjjgg11 hours ago

Those crypto hate articles are so trite. By this point, either people get it, or they don't.

We could even agree it isn't for everyone. Some people suffer from or dislike centralization, others don't. Some even explicitly WANT centralization.

aaccount13 hours ago

A rare article on the realities of blockchain

teh_infallible18 hours ago

Substitute “NASA” for “blockchain” in this article, and I agree:)

smokey_circles18 hours ago

I just can't take the power and pollution argument seriously. There's just nothing salient about it. I might have otherwise agreed with the author on their other points but if you can't see the issue with this argument it disqualifies your opinion (which js just my opinion).

"Bitcoin requires lots of electricity". No, nowhere near the scale human activity sans blockchain does and to provide it we burn coal. Like we've done for a looong time before bitcoin. Removing bitcoin doesn't remove the coal we burn. Genuinely daft argument.

And that's before we get into looking at the numbers from areas like the mining sector. Aluminum smelting isn't cheap from a power perspective, yet I don't see this argument leveled against coke.

The answer is renewable energy. Obviously.

igorkraw18 hours ago

The difference is that from then perspective of the critics, cryptos burn the energy needs of multiple small country for Ponzi schemes.

Purely to represent the opinion of the critics now, aluminum smelting might be and, but at least aluminum out of it, so they don't criticize the base activity, just the energy type. From the perspective of the critics, we don't need to struggle and transition crypto to RE, we can just stop doing it.

I personally agree, but people with your perspective (presumably) don't and place Crypto in "expensive but inherently valuable activity" or at least in "entertainment" both of which also use a lot of coal power but aren't negotiable, hence people focus on the energy sources not so much the activity.

Hence talking past each other

throwawaybobby16 hours ago
temp1291323111 hours ago
yob2216 hours ago
echopurity10 hours ago
antoniuschan9918 hours ago

Why is it that in 2021 if I accidentally transfer btc to an eth wallet I lose it all (into the actual ether)?

yashg18 hours ago

Because when the genius Satoshi Nakamoto thought up about digital funny money in the aftermath of 2008 financial crisis, he didn't think hard enough about all the possible scenarios.

JohnJamesRambo20 hours ago

Blockchains exist for a reason completely other than performance. Of course a centralized database would perform better. That’s not the point. I think engineers keep getting hung up on this and don’t zoom out and see the big picture.

xmprt20 hours ago

I feel like even after zooming out and seeing the big picture, it's hard to imagine blockchain solving real world problems. Blockchains are good when there's a lack of trust and decentralization is absolutely necessary. There are very few problems that actually need a blockchain. Anything that has the government in the loop (like buying houses or property) is a non starter and anything that runs on centralized servers (like game NFTs) also doesn't make sense.

anonporridge19 hours ago

You're right. And bitcoiners have been saying this from the very beginning of the crypto madness.

A global, government agnostic money like bitcoin that no group of insiders and early adopters have unassailable control over, seems like the only likely candidate for something that needs a truly decentralized and trustless blockchain.

The rest is hype.

Ekaros15 hours ago

And in practise not government or central bank controlled money is not practically desirable. The gold-bugs and crypto people might think it is, but there are very good reasons why no one is using gold standard anymore. It makes modern fiscal and financial policies impossible and probably leads to massive issues for everyone.

ryandamm19 hours ago

I believe this characterization fails to engage with what money actually is and does. It sounds good in print but fails in practice.

Except for bitcoin's current "monetary" uses, like money laundering and tax evasion.

+2
anonporridge19 hours ago
lunch19 hours ago

> Blockchains are good when there's a lack of trust and decentralization is absolutely necessary. There are very few problems that actually need a blockchain.

How about the current status quo of the Internet? Do you think being mined, sold, and endlessly tracked is OK?

xmprt19 hours ago

No. But you don't need blockchain to solve that. Things like BitTorrent work perfectly fine without the needless blockchain element.

+1
lunch19 hours ago
kelnos19 hours ago

It's not, but blockchains don't magically fix that. And the "web3" stuff built so far is still pretty centralized and could include that same tracking if the incumbents so chose.

+1
lunch19 hours ago
bbddg18 hours ago

I don't want to be tracked so I'm going to put everything in a public ledger.

throwawaylinux19 hours ago

What is the big picture then? I've never got anything concrete that doesn't sound like the usual buzz word snake oil.

Blockchains solve the wrong problem for a lot of the proposed applications I've seen, like handwaving about "supply chain". The biggest difficulty is not that you don't trust the database, it's that you don't trust the connection between the electronic data and reality. How do you trust a person to have packed the correct grade of meat into the box you are buying? If they've dutifully recorded something on the blockchain and you can verify that nobody has tampered with that record, it still does not help you.

And if you have regulation to ensure supply chain steps comply, then you trust the regulators, then you can have a central database.

Crypto coins are unique in that you can verify them mathematically. They have no connection to anything else out in the real world so they don't have that problem.

So aside from coins, where else is it that you would not trust a central database, but you can verify/trust the entries being added to that database?

jorpal19 hours ago

I agree, no problems in the real world are solved. I guess that’s where all the meta verse nonsense comes into play.

CryptoPunk19 hours ago

>>So aside from coins, where else is it that you would not trust a central database, but you can verify/trust the entries being added to that database?

I would not trust a central database for any application, even those where I have to trust the verifiers of the entries to that database.

E.g. I would prefer stablecoins over credit in a bank.

With a decentralized database, immutability and permissionlessness are the default, until the trusted third party actively intervenes to strip you of these privileges.

With a centralized database, access is by default denied, and requires active intervention from the trusted third party, in the form of a grant of permission, to acquire.

yashg17 hours ago

You can't trust a central database but you can trust a central blockchain? A proof of work blockchain which is trustless and permissionless and has many nodes can be trusted to be tamperproof and immutable, but it is also slow and inefficient (thanks to PoW). A PoW blockchain is inefficient by deaign, it's a feature not a bug beucase that is what gives it's trust without trusting.

But when you make that blockchain private, trustful, and permissioned (only designated nodes can add blocks) you are taking away the very properties that make the blockchain immutable. And it has to be done because that is what enterprises would want. So an enterprise blockchain like Corda/Hyperledger is no different than a central database. And no serious business least of all banks would do their business on a public truly distributed open blockchain.

throwawaylinux17 hours ago

> I would not trust a central database for any application, even those where I have to trust the verifiers of the entries to that database.

I don't see how that's reasonable. What am I missing, surely virtually nobody would be willing to spend the massive resources of a blockchain for that kind of risk model.

> E.g. I would prefer stablecoins over credit in a bank.

So aside from coins, what's another concrete example?

> With a decentralized database, immutability and permissionlessness are the default, until the trusted third party actively intervenes to strip you of these privileges.

> With a centralized database, access is by default denied, and requires active intervention from the trusted third party, in the form of a grant of permission, to acquire.

This sounds very much like the buzzword snake oil I've heard many times before, but I'm willing to be open minded about your non-coin example.

rank016 hours ago

You realize all this web3 stuff runs on top of the internet right?

There are centralized CAs, domain/ip registrars, ISPs…shit even the libraries that comprise your entire computing stack all come from centralized databases!

Your comment is stored on a database.

USDC/Tether have private databases and their collateral is held by third parties in again their own database.

soperj19 hours ago

Except that as Moxie pointed out just recently, the way it all is set up, everything is centralized anyway. So it's not actually being used in a different way.

betwixthewires19 hours ago

NFTs are set up in a centralized way.

Every time there's a bull market in cryptocurrency, the charlatans jump out of the woodwork. They build a bunch of websites and scam a lot of naive people. When the market reverses, these project disappear one after another, usually with people's money, sometimes because they don't actually solve a problem. Almost every one of these NFT grift projects are going to disappear over the next year or two.

anonporridge19 hours ago

And he was right of his critique.

Of course, he's saying all that after pumping and dumping his personal centralized crypto crap MobileCoin into Signal.

shawnz19 hours ago

Some blockchain technologies are highly centralized, but even then I think it's more like an "active/passive" configuration than a truly centralized system. If the system goes wrong, it's still easy to move to a different one.

obstacle119 hours ago

The parent article doesn't say anything about performance. Therefore this comment seems like a red herring. A case of not reading the article?

The parent article's point is that most currently popular technologies found an application rather quickly, whereas blockchain technologies have been around for a long time (in tech terms) and still have not made ground.

JohnJamesRambo19 hours ago

From the article-

> How long do we need to wait before someone comes up with an actual application of blockchain technologies that isn’t a transparent attempt to retroactively justify a technology that is inefficient in every sense of the word?

obstacle119 hours ago

OK perfect. "Inefficient" in every sense of the word. Let's say I'm wrong and skipped over that line. What else could the various senses of "inefficient" mean in the context of this article?

Probably the fact that, despite having been under development for > 10 years, we haven't seen any ground broken by any blockchain technologies for any reasons other than speculation or triviality. Which is what the other 95% of the article focuses on. The inefficiency of the development process, not necessarily the technology, although yes, the latter is a factor.

exdsq19 hours ago

Maybe you mean that they haven’t made useful ground, where useful is specific to you.

Remember that blockchain technologies have become legal tender, have over a trillion in market cap, have become financial instruments traded by people around the globe, is taught at Universities and part of the CFA accounting exam, is in the news daily, has resulted in large investments in research, etc…

It’s impact has hardly been non-trivial. Just the impact on finance is substantial even if people seem to gloss over a new financial asset as “just finance stuff”.

ryandamm19 hours ago

When has "market cap" been a measure of a currency? This is indicative of the logical fallacy so common in these debates, conflating "store of value" with "useful mechanism for transactions."

It's a Ponzi scheme. There's no inherent underlying value, its "market cap" is strictly a function of more dumb money flowing into the system. Occam's razor, this is the most likely explanation for everything in the crypto space; the model makes sense and explains a lot more than "a new financial asset" hokum.

exdsq19 hours ago

Depends if you view them as stocks or currencies, no? If it’s stocks then market cap is normal. Anyhow, if it was a giant Ponzi scheme then what about the projects ran by JP Morgan/Visa/Deloitte/etc? I have no doubt some projects are scams, but there are also non-ponzi projects and I don’t agree with painting them all with the same brush.

Dwolb19 hours ago

I don’t think we even need to “get” web3/blockchain/whatever rebrand.

No one understands what it will be (and people involved in the space barely understand what is, as in what all exists, today).

But here’s something that is concrete to anchor to: there’s somewhere north of $1T floating around in blockchains today.

That’s an incredible amount of money and people that have problems that need technology solutions.

bobsomers20 hours ago

Thank you for saying this, this point seems to be completely glossed over frequently, but it’s literally the point of blockchains.

To be explicit, the reason blockchains exist is to have a globally consistent database that doesn’t require trusting the operator.

bryanrasmussen19 hours ago

>To be explicit, the reason blockchains exist is to have a globally consistent database that doesn’t require trusting the operator.

which I mean when I think of that I think - that would be really useful for crime because you don't want to trust the operator because either 1. they're a narc 2. they're a criminal.

it's also useful for currency because not trusting the operator allows you to keep them from turning into paypal.

but then I just draw a blank on what it is useful for after that.

bobsomers18 hours ago

I'll be honest, I find the "blockchain is for crime" argument to be worn out in 2022. It feels a lot like "think of the children".

Of course blockchains can be used for crime, almost anything can. In fact, if you want the preferred currency of criminals the world over, look no further than the US Dollar.

Most organizations, governments, businesses, etc. start with plenty of trust to go around. There's no reason to inherently distrust them, so their governance, currencies, securities, etc. work just fine. Distrust breeds over time, which is why establishing governance, currencies, securities, etc. in a way that can be cryptographically verified by anyone is a useful property to have to ensure the system remains generally trustworthy long into the future.

For example, there are many reasons to distrust stock brokers, the Depository Trust Company, the spineless SEC, and other entities who run our securities exchange. If securities were traded on a blockchain instead of an opaque database that can't be audited except by a corrupt few, everyone could strongly trust in the freedom and fairness of the securities exchange markets.

If I could own all my stocks on the blockchain, I would do it in heartbeat.

+1
bbddg18 hours ago
codebolt19 hours ago

'Zooming out and seeing the big picture' seems to mean buying into a libertarian vision of the world where the current money system is horribly broken and blockchain technologies are a viable and superior alternative. I profoundly disagree on all points of that analysis.

somebodythere19 hours ago

There are plenty of people on any part of the political spectrum for whom the current money system is horribly broken.

JohnJamesRambo19 hours ago

I’m not libertarian at all. I see cryptocurrency as a fair and transparent way out of the extreme wealth inequality we see in the world today. Decentralization gets me excited. New ways of using technology gets me excited.

codebolt18 hours ago

A non-inflationary currency promotes hoarding. The biggest whales in crypto own a huge chunk of the total supply, even more so than in our current fiat system. How you think such a system does anything but worsen wealth inequality is a mystery to me.

bbddg18 hours ago

There's no magic bullet for solving a problem like wealth inequality. It's a political problem that requires a political solution.

I'd also imagine that crypto ownership is massively concentrated in the top 10% wealthiest people anyways.

cuteboy1919 hours ago

cryptocurrencies are not going to solve extreme inequality. they are a transparent way to transfer wealth from new investors to early investors (aka ponzi scheme)

epinephrinios6 hours ago

"A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that pays existing investors with funds collected from new investors"

Sorry to burst your bubble, but cryptocurrency does not work this way. Your reasoning can be applied to any asset, for example, a shitty house in California that is now worth $1M.

vmception19 hours ago

Exactly, People on all extremes of this just cant seem to understand the simple reality that “the market can bear it.”

The market can bear smart contract platforms whether that platform writes to a proof of work system, a faster distributed set of nodes, or on localhost with port forwarding.

It doesnt matter! People like to deploy that kind of code on a platform that can be accessed that kind of way.

If there isn’t a token then people DDOS it instantly, with smart contracts that take up too much processing cycles or memory. Simple. People dont want to use limited fiat payment rails to attempt to preallocate resources, it doesnt work very well at arbitrary amounts, it ceases to be permissionless and the author is agreeable here: its been 13 years of this other solution and is an international hit!

Think about developers on Shopify’s app store that try to sell to ecommerce merchants. Its the same people with the same goals! Sell tools that theoretically make someone else’s life easier. Extract value because commerce exists. Thats really valuable. Thats exactly whats going on in blockchain. Just because you and your friends are taking linear bets with your capital and cant quantify why things go up way too often really has nothing to do with the people that built that tool for you who are taking little basis points here and there.

baby20 hours ago

I think the author hasn’t heard about DeFi. It’s pretty mind blowing what people are building on top of blockchains these days. But of course users who are not directly affected are oblivious to the advances and are just upset that they are not being served as users. If you think blockchain is useless: you are not the target user. The day it becomes useful to you, then you can choose to use it or not, but that day you’ll probably use it without knowing you’re using it. After all, do you have a clue what backbone your bank is using to perform wire transfers?

obstacle119 hours ago

I'm not aware of any serious financial application running at scale and relying on blockchain under the hood.

Are you? What is it? Specifically.

Dwolb19 hours ago

Curve Finance with $14B locked to its platform. Serves up low slippage stablecoin swaps.

Some background on Curve (and Convex): https://medium.com/coinmonks/convex-curve-curve-d7e28cd6c1d9

mikeg819 hours ago

“Low slippage stable coin swap” is one of the most jargony things I’ve read on here in a while. Can you please ELI5 because I have no clue what this is or how it could be useful.

+2
baby19 hours ago
randomhodler8419 hours ago

The idea is you can lock capital in a pool, and as people trade between two usd stablecoins, USDC and DAI, you earn a fraction of the trade fees. The low slippage is due to the pool being large enough that you will get $1->$1.

obstacle119 hours ago

So this is Yet Another Liquidity Pool? $14B is not the kind of scale I mean. That is frankly trivial especially when transactions are large (or initial funding is high).

What I mean is, if blockchain is going to be a revolutionary technology backing all finance, where is the evidence it can handle the kind of transaction volume that, say, major credit card networks generate?

+1
somebodythere19 hours ago
+1
Dwolb19 hours ago
SanJacobs13 hours ago

> How long can it possibly be “early days”?

70-ish years. I'd say we just recently came out of the early days of computing around the 1990s or 2010s.

>How long do we need to wait before someone comes up with an actual application of blockchain technologies that isn’t a transparent attempt to retroactively justify a technology that is inefficient in every sense of the word?

Currency is inefficient? It's sure better than trading cows.

Smart contracts? Writing things using english and then every side involved hiring lawyers to be used as bad just-in-time compilers for what was written is way more inefficient.

"Bitcoin was the beginning of the end for the state" – geohot. And I can't imagine much more of an inefficient system than the state and central banking.

> How much pollution must we justify pumping into our atmosphere while we wait to get out of the “early days” of proof-of-work blockchains?

Energy production problem, not a blockchain problem.

> How many people must be scammed for all they’re worth while technologists talk about just beginning to think about building safeguards into their platforms?

God, devs, please don't put restrictions on your platforms under the guise of "safety". Same goes for governments. Stay out. If you have no clue how something works, it's partly on you if you gamble all your savings on it. But also, who is excusing scams? We all think scams are bad. Nobody is seeing someone who fell for BitConnect and saying "Well, it's the early days, so it's fine that you got scammed."

It seems to me that this lady really wants to dislike. In general. She enjoys disliking things.

Nextgrid13 hours ago

> Currency is inefficient? It's sure better than trading cows.

Currency is a problem that's already solved much more efficiently in a lot of countries.

> Smart contracts? Writing things using english and then every side involved hiring lawyers to be used as bad just-in-time compilers for what was written is way more inefficient.

Writing a bulletproof smart contract is difficult, as demonstrated by endless exploits despite the contracts being written & reviewed by specialists paid lots of money.

The advantage of the legal system is that when shit hits the fan, humans (in court) can step in and determine what the intent of the contract was despite potential loopholes, whereas in code, there is no difference between "loophole" and "intended behavior". Now you can of course have an authority that has power over smart contracts and can step in and rollback exploits, but that's just the current legal system with extra steps, at which point you may as well not use a smart contract at all.

> And I can't imagine much more of an inefficient system than the state and central banking.

There are obviously edge-cases and cryptocurrency is valuable in those, but in the vast majority of the world banking is a solved problem and much more efficient than cryptocurrencies. Compare the total cost (fee + environmental impact due to energy use, etc) of a card transaction or bank transfer with a cryptocurrency transfer.

I'm not saying that cryptocurrencies are useless - there are use-cases for them including in countries where the established monetary system is broken. But outside of those edge-cases, cryptocurrency would be a very wasteful downgrade from the status-quo.

MoSattler13 hours ago

> Currency is inefficient? It's sure better than trading cows.

> Smart contracts? Writing things using english and then every side involved hiring lawyers to be used as bad just-in-time compilers for what was written is way more inefficient.

If crypto is doing these things really more efficiently than current solutions, then why neither use case has any significant adoption of blockchain solutions?

plebianRube12 hours ago

Every technological revolution is held back as long as possible by those making the most money using the current system.

London streets will be covered in 3 feet manure if industry progresses at this pace.

You’re crazy if you think this fool contraption you’ve been wasting your time on will ever displace the horse, there is no significant adoption.

Electricity is dangerous, there is no significant adoption, gas lamps and candles work fine.

Remove trollys since we can make more money selling tires, oil, and buses.

Internet is a fad, what use case is it solving, it burns a lump of coal every time a book is ordered, there is no significant adoption.

EV1 - we will take your electric cars and crush them, there is no significant adoption.

Proof of work guaranteeing that no one can alter history unless they spend more energy than the entire network has spent already to secure property rights has no use case and no significant adoption.

At this point either you see a pattern from history, or you remain perpetually on the wrong side of a Blub paradox.

DaltonCoffee13 hours ago

Some of our current financial systems are deeply embedded and difficult to replace.

We're in a situation where we need bankers to finance lawyers to work on issues that would negate some of the need for bankers and lawyers.

MoSattler9 hours ago

> We're in a situation where we need bankers to finance lawyers to work on issues that would negate some of the need for bankers and lawyers.

How so? For what value proposition specifically?

cam08 hours ago

I think it's still early days in terms of what's been built and what valuable applications have been created, i.e. nothing of note. But it's definitely not early days for investing in tokens - almost all of the top tokens seem completely overvalued. I think the token prices will crash and rise continually over the next 5-10 years as developers and entrepreneurs take the ridiculous amounts of VC money that has been raised to invest in crypto, and ultimately (perhaps) build a handful of useful and popular applications.