12 votes

A unique performance art project shows just how useless NFTs can be

25 comments

  1. [5]
    Bullmaestro
    Link
    Hang on, NFT consumers aren't even paying for a blockchain copy of an image but rather a blockchain copy to a link to an image that's likely going to 404 in the years to come? That's crazy.

    Hang on, NFT consumers aren't even paying for a blockchain copy of an image but rather a blockchain copy to a link to an image that's likely going to 404 in the years to come? That's crazy.

    12 votes
    1. [3]
      rogue_cricket
      Link Parent
      Yeah the URI is what gets encoded, not even a hash of the image or anything as far as I understand it. The centralized managers of those URIs could point them all to a picture of a middle finger...

      Yeah the URI is what gets encoded, not even a hash of the image or anything as far as I understand it. The centralized managers of those URIs could point them all to a picture of a middle finger tomorrow and it's arguable whether that would even be illegal to do? Many already have been complete 'take the money and run' scams already, it's a 'greater fool' economy.

      9 votes
      1. [2]
        meff
        Link Parent
        If IPFS links are used then a content hash is essentially encoded into the URI.

        If IPFS links are used then a content hash is essentially encoded into the URI.

        2 votes
        1. Diff
          Link Parent
          They typically are, although the exact gateways used come and go and the file may not be pinned and may vanish in time. The hash is still there though, yeah.

          They typically are, although the exact gateways used come and go and the file may not be pinned and may vanish in time. The hash is still there though, yeah.

          1 vote
    2. Diff
      Link Parent
      There's another layer there, too. It's a Blockchain copy of a link to a metadata file which could 404 that itself links to an image file that could 404.

      There's another layer there, too. It's a Blockchain copy of a link to a metadata file which could 404 that itself links to an image file that could 404.

      3 votes
  2. [8]
    stu2b50
    Link
    I feel like it just misses the point, actually. No, what you're buying is a pointer that says "X person owns Y object". How useful is that? In general, fairly useful. For instance, a pointer that...

    I feel like it just misses the point, actually.

    Fundamentally, I hope people learn to understand what people are buying when purchasing NFT art right now is nothing more than directions on how to access or download an image

    No, what you're buying is a pointer that says "X person owns Y object". How useful is that? In general, fairly useful. For instance, a pointer that say "I own X game" is fundamentally what allows Steam to exist and be useful - but that pointer is stored in a database and managed by Valve. A pointer in your state's database (...or excel file) is what courts and law enforcement will use to validate that you own your house.

    And therein is the question about NFTs - not whether the literal idea of a token that is unique is valuable, it clearly is, but whether all the tradeoffs you have to make to use a blockchain to record said token actually gets you more than what you paid (in energy, cumbersomeness, etc.) for (in general, it does not seem to me that there are many cases where the "global consensus" is actually very useful, there tends to be a party that needs be trusted anyhow).

    This doesn't really show anything.

    9 votes
    1. [5]
      fredo
      Link Parent
      Is an NFT equivalent to a contract enforceable by law that will forever guarantee you access and ownership of an asset, digital or otherwise?

      Is an NFT equivalent to a contract enforceable by law that will forever guarantee you access and ownership of an asset, digital or otherwise?

      8 votes
      1. [4]
        stu2b50
        Link Parent
        Not inherently, in the same way that the bytes in a row in Valve's MySQL database is not equivalent to being able to play that game on Steam, or the paper a deed is written on inherently...
        • Exemplary

        Not inherently, in the same way that the bytes in a row in Valve's MySQL database is not equivalent to being able to play that game on Steam, or the paper a deed is written on inherently guarantees you ownership of land - that's the dressing around the record. It's not anything the record itself provides, but the existence of the record allows you do all those things.

        But it does get to a real reason NFTs may be useless - that dressing often relies on a single entity, and that single entity thereby becomes a party of trust, and that begs the question: why not just have that party spin up some postgres databases.

        The question is: do the benefits of using blockchain NFTs as a record keeper of uniqueness outweigh the negatives? And that's a worthwhile thing to explore (I think, at the moment, it does not).

        However, the "art stunt" is the equivalent of downloading all the excel files that track land ownership and putting them in a torrent. Missing the point.

        8 votes
        1. [3]
          fredo
          Link Parent
          So the answer to "NFTs mean nothing" is generally "well, X thing also means nothing"? Right now an NFT is kinda like a deed of ownership for Hogwarts. For every Hogwarts, you're its rightful...

          So the answer to "NFTs mean nothing" is generally "well, X thing also means nothing"?

          Right now an NFT is kinda like a deed of ownership for Hogwarts. For every Hogwarts, you're its rightful owner. As long as there is a Hogwarts, that is.

          10 votes
          1. [2]
            stu2b50
            Link Parent
            No, an NFT isn't inherently anything. It's a unique record tracked on a blockchain. There's currently a lot of frivolous NFTs which have outlandish valuations, but that's no different than...

            No, an NFT isn't inherently anything. It's a unique record tracked on a blockchain. There's currently a lot of frivolous NFTs which have outlandish valuations, but that's no different than blockbuster Steam trading cards.

            It does mean something - it tracks unique ownership. That's the first step in many processes relating to ownership - if you don't have a source of truth as to who owns something, then you can't enforce any ownership properties (this account can download and launch X game, this person will not get kicked off by law enforcement, etc)

            Tracking unique ownership of things is a valuable thing. You could have the government mint NFTs for land ownership, and then it would provide value in managing that

            a) the person who owns this land currently obtained from the person who owned it previously
            b) there is only one person who owns this land

            There's no questioning that. Rather, it's the alternatives - why that when you can have some clerks manage it via an Excel file that lives in a FTP server somewhere when you need to trust that the same entity provide law enforcement to kick out people who don't "own" that land.

            9 votes
            1. fredo
              Link Parent
              Sorry I'm not a programmer. To me the word "NFT" means the general use of NFTs, the same way that a "car" to me is more a Ford Mustang than the Mars Rover.

              Sorry I'm not a programmer. To me the word "NFT" means the general use of NFTs, the same way that a "car" to me is more a Ford Mustang than the Mars Rover.

              8 votes
    2. [2]
      Bullmaestro
      Link Parent
      Blockchain is good for the technology's initial purpose as a digital notary: being a tamper-proof way of digitally verifying documents. As a cryptocurrency though... the time and energy cost of...

      Blockchain is good for the technology's initial purpose as a digital notary: being a tamper-proof way of digitally verifying documents. As a cryptocurrency though... the time and energy cost of creating new blocks is just going to get exponentially higher over time.

      I've seen blockchain being used as a decentralised censorship-resistant form of web hosting and DNS though, which is worrying because it's going to reinforce the notion that you can't remove things from the internet.

      1 vote
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        The fate of each cryptocurrency will likely be different, so talking about them all in general as “blockchain” doesn’t really work. The cost of creating new Bitcoin blocks is proportional to the...

        The fate of each cryptocurrency will likely be different, so talking about them all in general as “blockchain” doesn’t really work.

        The cost of creating new Bitcoin blocks is proportional to the currency’s price, and it’s not clear that the price will keep rising. There have been crashes before and it’s always come back so far, but maybe it won’t come back from the next crash? Sometimes other cryptocurrencies crash and don’t come back.

        Whether Ethereum’s energy usage goes up depends on whether the transition to proof-of-stake works out.

        1 vote
  3. [6]
    jtvjan
    Link
    Doesn't this only make the NFTs more useful? Having them all backed-up in one handy torrent ensures their longevity.

    Doesn't this only make the NFTs more useful? Having them all backed-up in one handy torrent ensures their longevity.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      fredo
      Link Parent
      Huh... longevity of what, exactly? :/

      Huh... longevity of what, exactly? :/

      6 votes
      1. jtvjan
        Link Parent
        The pictures the NFTs refer to. When the trend first took off, they were on images that were already popular and widely shared. Now that people are making shitty drawings for the sole purpose of...

        The pictures the NFTs refer to. When the trend first took off, they were on images that were already popular and widely shared. Now that people are making shitty drawings for the sole purpose of selling NFTs on them, there's a fat chance of the picture disappearing from the internet and the NFT becoming useless.

        3 votes
    2. skybrian
      Link Parent
      Backing up public files, particularly small ones, isn't that hard. Make lots of copies. A torrent would work but so would a git repository. Maybe the harder part is getting a bunch of people to...

      Backing up public files, particularly small ones, isn't that hard. Make lots of copies. A torrent would work but so would a git repository.

      Maybe the harder part is getting a bunch of people to agree that the files are worth backing up? I'm sure that the git repository for Linux source code will live forever because so many people think Linux is important and have their own copies. Getting people to treat a collection of random gifs as if it were important is kind of a neat trick?

      4 votes
    3. [2]
      the_funky_buddha
      Link Parent
      I believe with most of them, as long as the blockchain is still active, the image will be because it becomes hosted on the blockchain and why it's so expensive to create them. I vaguely looked...

      I believe with most of them, as long as the blockchain is still active, the image will be because it becomes hosted on the blockchain and why it's so expensive to create them. I vaguely looked into it myself so I could host me and my wife's wedding pic as an NFT that'd, maybe, live longer than us.

      1. Diff
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Sadly not. NFTs don't embed anything but a URL. That URL points at a metadata JSON file that then contains the URL that points to the actual image. As far as longevity you'd be best served by...

        Sadly not. NFTs don't embed anything but a URL. That URL points at a metadata JSON file that then contains the URL that points to the actual image. As far as longevity you'd be best served by uploading it directly to IPFS and trying to get it pinned as much as possible.

        5 votes
  4. [6]
    vord
    Link
    Offcolor dark thought: I really wish someone would get around to plastering child porn all over the major block chains thus turning possession of crypto/nft into a criminal offense. Lets stop...

    Offcolor dark thought:
    I really wish someone would get around to plastering child porn all over the major block chains thus turning possession of crypto/nft into a criminal offense.

    Lets stop killing the planet to force digital scarcity.

    8 votes
    1. [5]
      Bullmaestro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Just the mere thought of that grosses me out. Even shutting down a problematic industry is no justification for maliciously distributing CP. Besides, cryptocurrencies and NFTs are already on the...

      Just the mere thought of that grosses me out. Even shutting down a problematic industry is no justification for maliciously distributing CP.

      Besides, cryptocurrencies and NFTs are already on the shaky path to criminalisation regardless. China and Iran have already banned crypto and I can definitely see other countries following suit. Here in Britain cryptocurrencies, or at least firms that deal with cryptoassets are already regulated to some extent by the FCA, and I wouldn't be surprised if they too regulated or banned NFT's.

      Given the increasingly exponential energy and computer hour requirements to mine new blocks, it's eventually going to be a slam dunk for environmentalists to ban crypto. Even for conservatives and right-wingers who are still in denial about climate change, a cryptocurrency ban would be low-hanging fruit that they'd gain brownie points for outlawing.

      Cryptocurrencies are little more than a speculative asset at best. No legitimate business will take crypto payments for as long as the transaction fees remain high and the price fluctuates heavily. What they are useful for is money laundering and criminal proceeds. Ever noticed that ransomware attackers always demand BTC payments?

      On a related side note, I'm surprised that blockchain technology hasn't been abused more by criminals.

      13 votes
      1. Macil
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        The second most popular cryptocurrency, Ethereum, is partially through its plan of moving away from proof of work mining within a year, solving the energy problem for a huge fraction of...

        Given the increasingly exponential energy and computer hour requirements to mine new blocks, it's eventually going to be a slam dunk for environmentalists to ban crypto. Even for conservatives and right-wingers who are still in denial about climate change, a cryptocurrency ban would be low-hanging fruit that they'd gain brownie points for outlawing.

        The second most popular cryptocurrency, Ethereum, is partially through its plan of moving away from proof of work mining within a year, solving the energy problem for a huge fraction of cryptocurrency activity including almost all NFTs. Cryptocurrency overall isn't going to die if a law happens about the environmental harmfulness of ones like Bitcoin.

        (I'm cautiously optimistic about cryptocurrency, and I think a law like that might be good eventually: it's important to fix or kill the environmentally harmful cryptocurrencies, and laws like that could push them into accepting changes to improve.)

        2 votes
      2. [3]
        vord
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        While I agree CP is repugnant, that's kinda the point. Don't really need new stuff created, just known-illegal existing. Maybe whatever they used to train that Apple detection thing. The...

        While I agree CP is repugnant, that's kinda the point. Don't really need new stuff created, just known-illegal existing. Maybe whatever they used to train that Apple detection thing.

        The magnitudes we're talking here is "await government regulation fighting lobbiest influence" vs "everyone drop it crypto now or risk being a sex offender".

        Betcha even criminal orgs wouldn't risk continuing to use it...makes an easy Al-capone like conviction.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          babypuncher
          Link Parent
          The problem is that even if you aren't creating new images/video for this purpose, the continued distribution of existing content is a further exploitation of the victims originally abused to...

          The problem is that even if you aren't creating new images/video for this purpose, the continued distribution of existing content is a further exploitation of the victims originally abused to create it.

          2 votes
          1. vord
            Link Parent
            You could just as easily substitute in any content for which a corporation sends a cease and desist order. You just gotta get creative. Toss some solid pornographic copyright/trademark violations...

            You could just as easily substitute in any content for which a corporation sends a cease and desist order. You just gotta get creative.

            Toss some solid pornographic copyright/trademark violations of Disney and you'd probably see similar affects. Some cartoons of beloved cartoon characters raping children would do it...no abuse victims neccessary.

            Everyone thinks of child porn as exclusively abuse between adults and children, forgetting the USA also includes consensual photos of anyone under the age of 18. I could probably be charged as such for possessing not-shared, non-sexualized photos of my baby in their first bath. Or two 15 year old teenagers could be charged for sexting.

            However, I think a mature enough 15 year old could see the benefit for humanity and make a judgement call to put themselves on display for the world to see as a way to poison the well of planet-crippling energy consumption. Many/most would probably just hail them as a hero.

            1 vote