Repeat after me: blockchain is centralised.

You want to tilt the power dynamics to favour social justice? You don’t do that by making a billion copies of the same database. You do it by ensuring that a billion people can have their own unique databases.

Expend your energy to realise topological decentralisation not global proofs. Sure, it won’t make you a billionaire but if that’s what you want, what the fuck you reading my feed for?

@aral yes but isn't it a good system for non-government-controlled money?

I know it attracted all kinds of jerks (money always does) but I believe the underlying idea is sound.

@aral @qwazix At least for the environmental impact: no. For the inherent currency instability: no also. For the inherent public tracking: no thrice.

@hypolite I'll give you the first but the instability imo is due to low market capitalization (a big spender can move the market) it's in no way inherent. And the public tracking works only if you publish your addresses. It is still better than banks.

@hypolite @qwazix Why do you think there is low market capitalization compared to government-backed money and how do you use it without publishing your address one way or another without being about to cross-reference with your ID?

@hypolite probably because it's new. Maybe not. But who used email 11 years after it's inception? Probably less people than those using bitcoin today.

Cross referencing it is required because of governments which have no interest whatsoever to allow a new kind of cash. They are busy enough trying to kill cash as it is.

@hypolite @qwazix Comparing cryptocurrencies to email is a stretch. Very few people used email 11 years after its inception because very few people had access to a computer at all at the time. If anything, the low cryptocurrency adoption now that everybody has a computer in their pocket is even more damning.

And while email provided a service that didn't exist at all, cryptocurrencies came about as an alternative electronic payment service with its specific learning curve and uncovered risks, which also explains the lack of adoption. I'm not sure I can think of an equivalent of the Mt Gox catastrophe for paying online with a credit card for example.

@hypolite I still think it's artificial. Apple bans cryptocurrency applications from the appstore. KYC requirements are absurd for buying crypto. If anonymous spending was really such an issue why can I buy paysafe cards at every convenience store anonymously?

And I haven't looked it up but I bet credit card fraud each year surpasses the MtGox losses with the difference that banks/credit cards processors just divide that cost upon everybody.

@hypolite @qwazix Paysafecards are issued in the US by a bank member FDIC, which is hardly anonymous. This company charges users a fee for the risk they are taking by being an online transaction intermediate. I'm not sure what was the point you were trying to make.

And the fraud cost share between credit card users/issuers is exactly the kind of expected risk management that cryptocurrencies can't provide.

@hypolite if you want to buy crypto you have to provide ID (even for small amounts). This is a big hurdle for adoption. This is said to be an anti-fraud measure. However, there is no such mandate for paysafe cards. I can go and buy paysafe cards anonymously.

I believe this is just governments being weary of a currency they can't control.

@hypolite @qwazix Well of course, money is just IOUs, which means it's trust-based. Government-issued money has for it that the government generally isn't going anywhere, so when someone gives a dollar bill to a cashier, they aren't vouching themselves, they just are transferring the target of the bill's IOU to the cashier.

Now this isn't possible with cryptocurrency because there's no government involved, so trust has to be earned another way and additional risks have to be managed. You have to provide and ID to purchase cryptocurrency not because of a government-issued regulation, but because privately-owned exchange places have to generate trust from somewhere, because they ultimately bear the risk for the people who trust them with their wallet that they filled using government-backed money.

Note that if you can run your own cryptocurrency software instance, you do not have to provide any sort of ID to start sending and receiving cryptocurrency from/in your wallet. It's only when you need to convert it from/to government-backed currency, which isn't a trivial operation, even conceptually.

Of course, it is easier to believe in a vague government cabal against cryptocurrencies. Although I partly agree with you, the government is watching what people are doing with cryptocurrency, mainly for tax purposes. Taxes are a way the government controls the money circulating in their country, the other way is public spending. And cryptocurrency has been promoted as a tax evasion scheme by anarcho-capitalists. But it isn't any different than cash in that regard. If you made a significant part of your income by cash, you still have to declare and pay revenue taxes on it. It isn't personal against cash nor cryptocurrency.

@hypolite @aral @qwazix

I would guess that throwing around various ideological/theoretical/political isms is not that constructive, but could it be said that blockchain (or Bitcoin) is an anarcho-capitalist project?

@hypolite @aral @luka @qwazix I believe it's more than that, it's their whole and only current existence that I know of.

@hypolite @aral @qwazix

Blockchain has no environmental impact, you're thinking of Proof of Work (just one solution for selecting the next block purposer).

There is no "inherent currency instability". Blockchains can be used to represent assets other than their native token. Check out the DAI cryptocurrency.

There is no inherit public tracking in Blockchain. There is inherit public tracking in *most* blockchains, but that is not a property of Blockchain itself. See Monero.

And at the moment cryprocurrencies seame to me like a good (and only?) way to pay without giving away privacy.

@qwazix @aral
But the government control is necessary to make the money have value. They can deploy violence (or threat thereof) upon you to force you to have money come tax time. There is no punishment for not having cryptocurrency.

Money backed by a confusing sales pitch will never beat money backed by state violence.

@machado is it? I see it being able to have the function of a measurement system. An agreed-upon system of value.

People need to exchange value in other forms besides taxes and barter isn't always practical.

@qwazix Without violent enforcement, you can only have trade at very small scales, at which money isn't really necessary. At that point you are dealing with some form or other of reputation economy.

@machado why? It seems to me that capitalism has outgrown nation states anyway.

@qwazix Capitalism changed the power dynamics, but it still requires nation states. They enforce property, transactions, contracts. With no state, if I go to a restaurant, what's forcing me to pay after I eat? If you stop paying rent, how do I evict you from the house? What ensures a product in transit reaches its destination?

@qwazix And if your answer is privatized violence, an unsupervised market will produce a monopoly which then becomes the new state.

Violence allows you to control infrastructure, and destroy competing infrastructure. Any unilateral disarmament will see your infrastructure destroyed or stolen by those who did not disarm.

Any market of violence will eventually produce a state, even if it doesn't call itself or isn't recognized as such.

@qwazix Under capitalism, the state enforces property, and the corporations control the distribution. Members of the enforcing entity have an incentive to benefit the distributing entities in exchange for bigger slices.

The state can always take the capital unilaterally. It doesn't because it's usually a less profitable move for the individual decision makers. Companies don't have the same power, at best they can't put themselves at the mercy of a different state.

@qwazix For a practical example, just look at how smaller countries won't bother enforcing foreign intellectual property until some lobby pays them to do it.

@qwazix @aral Putting all transactions in a public ledger is a strange idea to me. One must assume any cryptographic scheme which isn't one time pad will be broken over time, that's why all well-designed schemes can switch both key and algorithm at the drop of a hat. When everything is public, you can only put stuff there which is truly public. I don't think "every single transaction" fits that description. Blockchain is a really cool solution looking for a problem, currencies isn't one of them.

@aral Especially since I have yet to see a blockchain proposal that is not inherently accumulative in its reward mechanism.

@aral "what if we made a billion copies of the centralized database? surely that would fix all the problems rather than just creating a bunch of new ones without fixing anything at all!"

@aral Blockchain is architecturally distributed but logically centralized.

A test for whether something is logically decentralized is whether you can start two systems independently and then combine them later into a bigger federation without technical conflicts.

@bob @aral
I feel like this thread is using the word "Blockchain" to mean Bitcoin. There are certainly blockchains that allow for this; particularly ones that support co-chains / side-chains.

You start by creating your own private network, with your own assets that you are interested in managing. Then, if you decide you would like to be interoperable with assets on the main chain, you can - 1/2

announce your co-chain to the main network, and then trade your asset.

Co-chains can run forever without needing to refer back to the main chain, and anyone is allowed to set up a co-chain. Theoretically co-chains could even federate directly without needing to use the main chain if they so choose. @bob @aral - 2/2

@aral i want to be a "bill"ionnaire. that way "bills" are no worry. some politician said recently that 70% of outstanding bills are owed by 1% of world's wealthiest or such. financially challenged cannot owe.

@nergal and if you are a bill-"gates"-ionnaire there are no gates, you can do what you want :)


@aral @nergal Bills aren't a problem at least for hundredthousandaires like myself and you can reach that point on a single salary without having to extract any rent from anyone or speculate against other people.

@hypolite wall street and stock markets speculation? that is gambling. it is all bets. "i bet this will be worthless||worthmore in a second". i do not see why market speculation affects capital and production. wall street crashed at least thrice in my score and 3/4 years of existence. @aral

@hypolite @aral @nergal Stocks, futures, real estate and VC funding all are speculative markets and integral parts of capital management options. They aren't gambling because gambling has an insured profit margin built in the system. Speculative markets aren't completely random either, but they definitely are exploitative.

@aral things that fit this that i know of so far are freenet and zeronet?

@aral it’s funny I’ve been on again off again working on a decentralized currency idea and I always butt up against security issues that seem easiest to solve by centralizing parts of the functionality. I kind of decided tentatively to have trackers that facilitate transactions and sharing relevant transaction histories that relate to coins involved. So by decentralizing transaction history, I had to centralized entities to facilitate them. Would love to learn a better way.

@aral Thank you for putting into words what I find imminently frustrating about blockchain. Every time someone explains it to me it feels like "and you're just trading receipts that eventually filter back to some central authority. You've created a bank but with more steps."

(And no, person who will feel the need to elaborate, I do not need you to elaborate. My lack of faith in your belief structure is not a conversion opportunity. Yield, good sir knight).

@aral Agreed re the power dynamics argument, but it's worth noting that the blockchain was originally meant for cases where "trading parties" essentially don't trust each other but want to agree on certain things anyway.

In that case, a single database that anyone can verify makes sense.

I agree that it does not make sense for any form of artistic or political expression and certainly not as a means of decentralizing such forms of expression.

@aral it's shared, not centralized. there's no central authority, just consensus.

@aral A blockchain is a datastructure that makes a specific set of tradeoffs to achieve exactly one useful function - a decentralized timestamping server. Those tradeoffs are only worth it in very specific scenarios, and most of the blockchain industry ignores that.

If you believe in money as a useful tool, then a blockchain might very well be a solid replacement for authoritarian centralized systems such as all of digital banking. Beyond that, it's just a way to trick investors.

Large blockchain ledgers "lead to centralisation" because over time they outgrow the ability for normal humans to store without heavy investments in storage equipment. There are some uses of blockchain technology which grow at very slow rates and can be managed and stored without creating a burden on anybody, so it depends on the application. Anything related to crypto-currency is best left to the corporate monopolists because they're ultimately going to get it anyway. If you just want to record something like password or private key changes it's probably a workable technology. The problem is that the first thing people do with blockchain is nearly always crypto-currency rather than the applications where it actually makes sense.

I do think there is some use for some set of public, publicly verified, immutable statements. Something provable which everybody acknowledges, which cannot be falsified by repeating a lie often enough.

I don't know what exactly that use would be, or what to put in there, but there are things which I definitely don't want everyone to have their own version of. Statements of facts, binding public contracts and assertions. Laws?

Basically anything you want noone to be gaslighted about.

@aral @Mr_Teatime I've seen artwork authenticity and ownership as a use for blockchain.

That sounds like a good idea.

I was thinking more of weighty society-wide things that would have been inscribed on a giant block of stone back in the day, which you don't want anyone able to lie about later.
The constitution, political (and other society-wide) contracts.

But actually: Any public record of obligations or ownership, as long as it truly needs to be public should be suitable, provided of course we can do it with finite resources.

... campaign promises? :)

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