29 votes

What exactly is an NFT and why is it suddenly all over the news?

What is an NFT and what makes them valuable?

I know I can just Google this, but Tilders are smart and will provide an accessible, nuanced and complete comment on the technology that I won't get elsewhere.

Besides the technology itself, I'm interested in knowing why it drew so much attention recently. What prompted NFT's sudden notoriety?

78 comments

  1. [22]
    drannex
    (edited )
    Link
    This is by far the most accurate way I feel about all of this, and it came from a comment I read this morning on HN from daenz.
    • Exemplary

    This is by far the most accurate way I feel about all of this, and it came from a comment I read this morning on HN from daenz.

    I feel like I'm saying "the emperor has no clothes", but doesn't anyone else think this NFT art thing is bullshit? Everything about it screams "scam": they're asking you to spend your real, hard-earned money on some digital "asset", pumped by celebrity influencers and hype entrepreneurs. Everyone is drawn to the big multi-million dollar figures of these high profile artists, figures that you will never see for your "assets", and do nothing but serve as a siren's call to everyone around. These high profile sales are marketing, nothing more. They are serving their purpose to kick start the mainstream adoption of this scam, because everyone thinks they can make a quick buck buying some digital signature.

    What's more is the pseudo-intellectual justifications for it all. As soon as you bring up value, proponents put on their philosophy hat and ponder "what is value? money is just paper, maaaaan, we just believe it has value." Or we hear that owning a digital "asset" is actually the same thing as a physical "asset" because they're both unique things that can't be copied. It's all smoke and mirrors, and you know that when you have to hide behind vague philosophical assertions about "well nothing really has any value", then you have no actual argument supporting the value of the thing you're defending. It's a new illusion, pumped by hype, and they're trying to justify its existence by pointing to other illusions.

    Thanks but count me out.

    24 votes
    1. [19]
      Greg
      Link Parent
      I've been prodding at the concept of value and the shared hallucination that holds it all together, particularly in the art and luxury goods world, for many years now. I probably come across as...

      I've been prodding at the concept of value and the shared hallucination that holds it all together, particularly in the art and luxury goods world, for many years now.

      I probably come across as relatively pro-NFT because I keep popping up saying they're no different to a bunch of other signifiers of value: it's not that I especially believe in NFTs, it's more that I've long since lost all belief that there's any sanity or justice underlying existing markets - it feels as though we're just along for the ride, and by that measure an NFT is no more absurd than any number of other realities we've come to accept.

      5 votes
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        Sort of. Blockchains are terrible for the environment for little benefit. They're fiat money with no backing other than 'someone paid electricity to do this math'. All of it goes poof the instant...

        by that measure an NFT is no more absurd than any number of other realities we've come to accept.

        Sort of. Blockchains are terrible for the environment for little benefit. They're fiat money with no backing other than 'someone paid electricity to do this math'.

        All of it goes poof the instant someone goes 'to hell with your blockchain proof of ownership, I have a gun and it's mine now.'

        Which is incidentally how much of the world was colonized.

        10 votes
      2. [14]
        mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        NFT is way more absurd. When you buy a painting, you can hang it on a wall. Not a copy, the painting. From what I gathered from comments and readings, NFT is fundamentally, ontologically...

        NFT is way more absurd.

        When you buy a painting, you can hang it on a wall. Not a copy, the painting.

        From what I gathered from comments and readings, NFT is fundamentally, ontologically different. It is not a work of art, it is a token that symbolicly connects an individual to a piece of code that is somewhat related to the piece of art (or anything really) in a very abstract way.

        This is all too esoteric for me. I'm really having trouble with this. This feels like a highly elaborate prank.

        7 votes
        1. [12]
          Greg
          Link Parent
          Paintings are a little more difficult to map here because they can't be identically duplicated (although you can come damn close, perhaps close enough to fool an expert, and that leads off into...

          Paintings are a little more difficult to map here because they can't be identically duplicated (although you can come damn close, perhaps close enough to fool an expert, and that leads off into its own whole rabbit hole that I'll skip for now).

          Photography is the example I used in another thread. One print is made by the artist, it's the print, it holds millions of dollars in value. Another print is made by the museum gift shop. It holds $12.99 in value.

          You can hang both on your wall, sure, but there's some magic, some secret sauce that makes one worth infinitely more than the other. Depending on the type of camera and the exact printing process, you could end up in a situation where the two are literally identical. From the same physical printer, even.

          The difference between them is totally intangible, nothing more than a concept. You can't hang that on the wall; you can't hang the original a hundred thousand times more than you can hang the cheap copy.

          An NFT is one way, among many, of capturing and proving that essence of originality. It says this is the copy blessed by the artist, not any other copy. You don't get any more or less ability to show it off on a screen, just as you don't get any more or less ability to hang the photo on your wall. You just get a stamp of approval to tell everyone else that they should value your copy more than anyone else's.

          10 votes
          1. [11]
            mrbig
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Please correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I understand an NFT does not necessarily entails ownership of any material or immaterial object that can be more or less authentic. Does an NFT of a...

            Please correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I understand an NFT does not necessarily entails ownership of any material or immaterial object that can be more or less authentic.

            Does an NFT of a photograph contains the photograph within itself? Would the NFT of a movie contain the movie, and so on?

            3 votes
            1. [10]
              Greg
              Link Parent
              On the whole, an NFT can contain pretty much whatever you like. If you really want to drill down to what it actually is, the answer is pretty much a unique ID and a JSON object. As I understand...

              On the whole, an NFT can contain pretty much whatever you like. If you really want to drill down to what it actually is, the answer is pretty much a unique ID and a JSON object.

              As I understand (and my own understanding is comparatively new, so I stand open to correction!), some do encode the entire file as part of the token, but most encode a link to the file on a distributed file system instead.

              If I can turn the question round on you, though: what would be added or lost by encoding the file in the NFT, or not? If I sell you a banana taped to a wall you may well receive neither the banana nor the tape. You bought the concept, not the physical items, yet the concept had value.

              I find that incredibly odd, and that's why I don't find NFTs fundamentally any more odd. I've already maxed out.

              10 votes
              1. [9]
                mrbig
                Link Parent
                I very much bought the actual piece of art that embodies whatever concepts it relates to. This transition to metaphysics is quite the logical jump, in my view. It is not possible to purchase...

                I very much bought the actual piece of art that embodies whatever concepts it relates to. This transition to metaphysics is quite the logical jump, in my view.

                It is not possible to purchase concepts, you acquire objects (digital or otherwise) that ellicit conceptual thoughts on human beings by virtue of its properties.

                1 vote
                1. [8]
                  Greg
                  Link Parent
                  That's the thing, though: when you bought the Art Basel banana, you didn't actually acquire the object. You still have to go out and get your own banana and tape to display it - and you could have...

                  That's the thing, though: when you bought the Art Basel banana, you didn't actually acquire the object. You still have to go out and get your own banana and tape to display it - and you could have done that without paying $120,000 to the artist. So what part did you buy?

                  3 votes
                  1. [7]
                    mrbig
                    Link Parent
                    Oh I am not familiar with the banana story. This doesn't seem representative of the way we generally deal with the purchase of art, or any object really. Otherwise a story like that would probably...

                    Oh I am not familiar with the banana story. This doesn't seem representative of the way we generally deal with the purchase of art, or any object really. Otherwise a story like that would probably not register as something odd or worthy of attention.

                    1. [6]
                      Greg
                      Link Parent
                      It's definitely an extreme example, and that's kind of why I like it: it's irrefutable proof that equivalent weirdness can happen without any kind of digital assistance. The art itself...

                      It's definitely an extreme example, and that's kind of why I like it: it's irrefutable proof that equivalent weirdness can happen without any kind of digital assistance. The art itself deliberately highlights that weirdness, as does the other artist who then decided to step in and eat the original banana - very explicitly forcing everyone to confront the question of whether the physical or the conceptual holds the value.

                      It's not totally unique, either, it's a sliding scale. A performance piece, if purchased by a gallery, is totally intangible - you might say they're buying instructions, or a script, or the right to stage the performance, but what gives any of those things worth? Have they also bought a concept, any more or less than the banana?

                      What about sculptures that are dismantled and then rebuilt on site by technicians? Maybe replacing some parts each time as they wear (ship of Theseus, anyone?). Are those made more or less original because the technicians, rather than the artist, placed the pieces? Should they be worth less after being dismantled once, because the original artist's touch has been lost?

                      The photograph example I used above: put the two identical prints side by side. Close your eyes and mix them up. Which one is worth a few dollars and which one is worth a few million? How can there be a difference if you can't tell them apart? If nobody can tell them apart?

                      The banana highlights the issue, but the question of what it means to be original, and why that's valued, hangs over many things.

                      2 votes
                      1. [5]
                        mrbig
                        Link Parent
                        Sure there are many "weird" aspects of art. I just think that this line of reasoning is kinda flimsy. I mean, I can see how that is convenient, but I believe it would require a lot of delicate...

                        Sure there are many "weird" aspects of art. I just think that this line of reasoning is kinda flimsy. I mean, I can see how that is convenient, but I believe it would require a lot of delicate connections to actually bridge the inherent impermanence of art with a defense of NFT.

                        In other words, I suspect this argument is weaker than it seems.

                        1 vote
                        1. [4]
                          Greg
                          Link Parent
                          There's one thing that links all of those examples in my mind: the actual work of art can be duplicated. You can duct tape your own banana, stage your own performance, print your own copy of the...

                          There's one thing that links all of those examples in my mind: the actual work of art can be duplicated. You can duct tape your own banana, stage your own performance, print your own copy of the photograph. These can be literally, down to the minutest details, identical.

                          The only thing that gives value to the "original" of these works, intangible or easily duplicated as they are, is a little certificate signed by the artist and a well tracked chain of custody to back that up.

                          We all accept that these paper documents confer value on the work. An NFT is a digital document doing an identical job, with the chain of custody in plain view.

                          I genuinely can't see a difference between the two, no matter how I turn it around in my mind. It's fascinating to explore, but I am starting to think the way we see this might be something very fundamental that differs in each of our worldviews.

                          1 vote
                          1. [3]
                            mrbig
                            (edited )
                            Link Parent
                            Well the banana thing does seem to illustrate the immaterial aspects of art. That's a far cry from the conclusion that art is immaterial. There are most certainly more examples of art that are...

                            Well the banana thing does seem to illustrate the immaterial aspects of art. That's a far cry from the conclusion that art is immaterial. There are most certainly more examples of art that are very much material. You wouldn't pay as much for a perfect copy of a Pollock as you would for an original. And this is not merely a consequence of economics or of the certification paper. The actual painting is the very object of the deal.

                            1. [2]
                              Greg
                              (edited )
                              Link Parent
                              But why would you pay more for the original than the perfect copy? Every dollar of difference between the two is purely being paid for the certificate, and for the intangible concept of...

                              But why would you pay more for the original than the perfect copy? Every dollar of difference between the two is purely being paid for the certificate, and for the intangible concept of originality (including your place in the historical story of the work).

                              If you just wanted the physical object, you'd buy the copy. Especially if it's a truly perfect, indistinguishable copy.

                              In either case, I get the impression that we just don't see this through the same lense and that probably isn't going to change - it's been interesting to discuss, and I appreciate it, but it's late here so I'm going to leave it at that.


                              [Edit] I wanted to add, in case I gave the opposite impression, that I absolutely do still care instinctively for authenticity and originality - I'd want the original too - but I find the concept complex and difficult to unwrap, and once money comes into play I find the extremes and specifics mind bending. We all have this idea that the original is better, even though it's often the case that the only way to distinguish the original from the copy is using the certificate.

                              2 votes
                              1. mrbig
                                Link Parent
                                For the same reason I'd rather have the actual ball used in the final match of the 1970 World Cup instead of a perfect copy: history and affection.

                                But why would you pay more for the original than the perfect copy?

                                For the same reason I'd rather have the actual ball used in the final match of the 1970 World Cup instead of a perfect copy: history and affection.

                                3 votes
        2. kilroy
          Link Parent
          An NFT is more like a bank account. The money in your account is just numbers in a computer made worth anything because the government keeps it “rare” enough to be valuable and we all buy into it....

          An NFT is more like a bank account. The money in your account is just numbers in a computer made worth anything because the government keeps it “rare” enough to be valuable and we all buy into it. The rarity in this case is enforce by separate institutions, such as the NBA with their Top Shop collectibles.

      3. [3]
        tomf
        Link Parent
        would it be fair to view NFTs as serialized trading cards for digital properties?

        would it be fair to view NFTs as serialized trading cards for digital properties?

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          Greg
          Link Parent
          Yeah, I think that's a great way to sum it up! I imagine the people involved in the multimillion dollar sales at Sotheby's would prefer you used words like "certificate of authenticity" rather...

          Yeah, I think that's a great way to sum it up!

          I imagine the people involved in the multimillion dollar sales at Sotheby's would prefer you used words like "certificate of authenticity" rather than "trading card", but they both amount to the same thing, really.

          1 vote
          1. tomf
            Link Parent
            ok -- I was originally in the 'this is stupid' but I can see the value in it. There could be a lot of applications for this, sort of a universal DRM.

            ok -- I was originally in the 'this is stupid' but I can see the value in it. There could be a lot of applications for this, sort of a universal DRM.

            1 vote
    2. [2]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      Awesome. Would maybe have the link for this comment?

      Awesome. Would maybe have the link for this comment?

      2 votes
      1. drannex
        Link Parent
        Thought I included it, but appears I did not! I've updated the comment to include the link

        Thought I included it, but appears I did not! I've updated the comment to include the link

        5 votes
  2. [28]
    stu2b50
    Link
    I wrote on this earlier, but really, think of it like skins in CS:GO. Skins are nothing more but a row in Valve's database. A whole market has rose around the buying and selling of those skins....

    I wrote on this earlier, but really, think of it like skins in CS:GO. Skins are nothing more but a row in Valve's database. A whole market has rose around the buying and selling of those skins. The key is that the prerequisite for this is trust, trust that Valve won't fuck things up.

    A blockchain based NFT's unique attribute is that they proxy trust. Rather than trust the person who made them, you can instead trust whatever blockchain they're minted on. So long as Ethereum's consensus algorithm is correct and suffers no attacks, then your record will continue to exist.

    Anyone can go on the Ethereum blockchain and verify that you indeed own the token you say you do. Just like you can go on Steam, pull up your account (which will cause a database read on Valve's side) and verify that you indeed own your super rare knife skin. And you can transfer that ownership by adding a row in Valve's database.


    So what makes them valuable? Nothing, inherently. It's a way to have a database where you can piggyback on the trust of the blockchain.

    In some fields, like CS:GO skins, clearly Valve is, and will always be, the head honcho; the figure that basically must be trusted anyway.

    But is there such a thing for, say, art? That's ostensibly the value of the NFT. In situations where there aren't, or couldn't be, a central body that can be trusted for which everyone agrees, the blockchain takes that place.

    The cost for that attribute is, of course, the inflexibility of an append-only ledger and the immense cost it currently takes to maintain consensus.

    14 votes
    1. [27]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      But what exactly is the connection of what I assume are a bunch of lines of code and a Tweet or some other digital thing? Is that merely an abstract statement or does the NFT contains itself some...

      But what exactly is the connection of what I assume are a bunch of lines of code and a Tweet or some other digital thing? Is that merely an abstract statement or does the NFT contains itself some kind of information (or whatever) that relates to the object it is "selling"? Or does it function just like a paper saying "whoever owns this piece of paper also owns this 'object'"? Does an NFT impact the preservation of the object at all?

      3 votes
      1. [26]
        stu2b50
        Link Parent
        Exactly. What gives that legitimacy has nothing to do with a technical aspect, but it's the fact that Jack Dorsey, who made the first tweet, minted the NFT. That it's on the blockchain is just a...

        Or does it function just like a paper saying "whoever owns this piece of paper also owns this object?

        Exactly. What gives that legitimacy has nothing to do with a technical aspect, but it's the fact that Jack Dorsey, who made the first tweet, minted the NFT.

        That it's on the blockchain is just a different datastore that gives it a few unique properties. What you make of the token is up the context and the players that deal with the token.

        Just like when you own the deed to land in the US, you have a piece of paper, which ties into a row in the government's database, that says that you own that land. And the government promises that the police will kick off anyone who isn't the owner in their database. Nothing about that piece of paper, or that row in a database, grants you anything. It's the context around it (namely, the US government's power) that gives it value.

        7 votes
        1. [25]
          mrbig
          Link Parent
          But what legal effects does it have? Suppose I have an NFT to the song Stairway to Heaven, by Led Zeppelin. Will I get royalties from it?

          But what legal effects does it have?

          Suppose I have an NFT to the song Stairway to Heaven, by Led Zeppelin. Will I get royalties from it?

          3 votes
          1. [4]
            whispersilk
            Link Parent
            One way I've seen people describe it is as, essentially, an autograph. An NFT of "Stairway to Heaven" would not give you the rights to the song, it would just be a copy of the song that the artist...

            One way I've seen people describe it is as, essentially, an autograph. An NFT of "Stairway to Heaven" would not give you the rights to the song, it would just be a copy of the song that the artist has "signed" and given to you. The only thing that would get you royalties is if you got an NFT of the rights to the song (and I don't know if that would be legally binding, at least as it stands now).

            5 votes
            1. [3]
              mrbig
              Link Parent
              I'm more puzzled. If an NFT is used to sell a Twitt, and an NFT is just a fancy statement of ownership, what exactly is it autographing? Where is the copy that you, and only you, own?

              I'm more puzzled. If an NFT is used to sell a Twitt, and an NFT is just a fancy statement of ownership, what exactly is it autographing? Where is the copy that you, and only you, own?

              2 votes
              1. [2]
                whispersilk
                Link Parent
                The NFT contains a copy of the data, so the copy that you and only you own is contained within the NFT itself.

                The NFT contains a copy of the data, so the copy that you and only you own is contained within the NFT itself.

                2 votes
                1. mrbig
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  Okay. Seems like a silly way to spend money, but okay, I get it ;) Maybe I'm getting old. I was thinking that something like that could be used for preservation. A copy of a work of art (like a...

                  Okay. Seems like a silly way to spend money, but okay, I get it ;) Maybe I'm getting old.

                  I was thinking that something like that could be used for preservation. A copy of a work of art (like a movie) guaranteed by such network would have a better chance to survive in the next centuries.

                  2 votes
          2. [20]
            stu2b50
            Link Parent
            Not inherently. A row in a database doesn't mean anything. But you can. You can write up a contract that says, "I promise to dedicate 12% of my profits, split evenly among all holders of my...

            Not inherently. A row in a database doesn't mean anything. But you can. You can write up a contract that says, "I promise to dedicate 12% of my profits, split evenly among all holders of my blahblah NFT". That is not something inherent to a Ethereum NFT, but it is something that you are fully capable of doing around it.

            Then there's smart contracts; essentially, before, it's again trust in the US government and its promise that it uphold legal documents on the parties that sign it. You can also write code to delineate a contract that will be enforced by the same consensus algorithm in the Ethereum blockchain. It doesn't really change anything about this situation, just thought I'd mention it since that's once of the big hype buzzwords around Ethereum.

            2 votes
            1. [19]
              mrbig
              Link Parent
              If I have to draw a contract to guarantee my rights, why would I use an NFT at all? I'm puzzled about its usefulness.

              If I have to draw a contract to guarantee my rights, why would I use an NFT at all? I'm puzzled about its usefulness.

              1. [18]
                stu2b50
                Link Parent
                It would be pretty silly to try and recreate stocks with NFTs. But that's not really what most people are doing with them. People are inherently irrational about "things". For instance, if you...

                It would be pretty silly to try and recreate stocks with NFTs. But that's not really what most people are doing with them.

                People are inherently irrational about "things". For instance, if you have a sweater in good condition worn by Albert Einstein, people will desire it. If you have the same sweater owned by Adolf Hitler, people will detest it (alright, museums and neo nazi's wouldn't but you get the point).

                People want the "official" token made by Led Zeppelin for an album, because of sentimentality. Same reason why people want rare Pokemon Cards. Or a signed copy of an album - it's not like the ink is providing any value!

                What blockchain NFTs do that is special is that are able to proxy trust. You don't have to trust that Led Zepplin's IT staff won't fuck things up. That they won't record a transaction that didn't happen, or forget to record a transaction that did happen. Or secretly mint more NFTs than they said they would. Or fraudulently take NFTs from you and delete them, or give them to someone else.

                Instead, either you trust or you don't the Ethereum blockchain.

                8 votes
                1. Greg
                  Link Parent
                  I really like this analogy. It's a very intuitive way of bringing in a fairly abstract and fuzzy concept.

                  it's not like the ink is providing any value

                  I really like this analogy. It's a very intuitive way of bringing in a fairly abstract and fuzzy concept.

                  4 votes
                2. [16]
                  mrbig
                  Link Parent
                  Well the ink is there to document the fact that, at a certain time and location, a specific person wrote that signature. An autograph tells a story. There's a chain of events that indirectly...

                  Or a signed copy of an album - it's not like the ink is providing any value!

                  Well the ink is there to document the fact that, at a certain time and location, a specific person wrote that signature. An autograph tells a story. There's a chain of events that indirectly connects me to that person. For some people, the contemplation of this connection is pleasurable in itself.

                  In the example, what exactly is the connection between me and, say, Robert Plant? Suppose that he took care of all the technical details regarding the NFT, would that give me a similar pleasure? I don't think so. Those are just impersonal steps, mere digital accountancy.

                  Robert Plant, of course, would most likely not be involved in anything but his public authorization. Or maybe not even that if he doesn't own his music. What have I got, than? A cold sequence of bits pointing Stairway to Heaven to me. Hurray? :/

                  1. [15]
                    stu2b50
                    Link Parent
                    And what is an NFT? A document that at a specific time and location, with some specific data, X person heralded this token to you. It's the same thing. Only, with a signature, you put implicit...

                    Well the ink is there to document the fact that, at a certain time and location, a specific person wrote that signature.

                    And what is an NFT? A document that at a specific time and location, with some specific data, X person heralded this token to you. It's the same thing. Only, with a signature, you put implicit trust in the laws of physics. Which is a pretty good bet.

                    There's a chain of events that indirectly connects me to that person. For some people, the contemplation of this connection is pleasurable in itself.

                    Exactly. This leaves the realm of "NFT vs signature". Whether or not that proof of connection is born out with ink, a MySQL database, or a blockchain, doesn't matter. Now it's about the context that it was created in.

                    You can easily have the same connection with an NFT. Because it's not that the NFT or the signature inherently has the value - it's a permanent record of something else which everyone who trusts in Ethereum believes exists because they can look it up.

                    2 votes
                    1. [14]
                      mrbig
                      Link Parent
                      Well yeah (kinda), but the point remains that an NFT lacks the emotional aspect of an autograph. It doesn't even requires the aquiescence of the artist to occur.

                      Well yeah (kinda), but the point remains that an NFT lacks the emotional aspect of an autograph. It doesn't even requires the aquiescence of the artist to occur.

                      1. [13]
                        stu2b50
                        Link Parent
                        Says who? Writing your name in ink does not inherently have any emotional value or aspect. Humans arbitrarily ascribed emotional value to that, and can just as easily arbitrarily assign to the...

                        the point remains that an NFT lacks the emotional aspect of an autograph.

                        Says who? Writing your name in ink does not inherently have any emotional value or aspect. Humans arbitrarily ascribed emotional value to that, and can just as easily arbitrarily assign to the creation of NFTs.

                        It doesn't even requires the aquiescence of the artist to occur.

                        It doesn't require their aquiesence for me to sign a Led Zeppelin album either. But actually, this is an area where NFTs are hypothetically superior. You see, you can see who created the NFT. Led Zeppelin says "My Public Key is 1234adfaLAK;k34!" And now I can personally verify that any NFT claimed to be created by Led Zeppelin, was in fact created at least by the person with the private key.

                        Whereas a signature, you need like an expert to inspect the signature and do handwriting analysis etc.

                        4 votes
                        1. [9]
                          vord
                          Link Parent
                          You don't need a blockchain or anything else like it. You just need PGP signatures. They do the same thing.

                          But actually, this is an area where NFTs are hypothetically superior. You see, you can see who created the NFT. Led Zeppelin says "My Public Key is 1234adfaLAK;k34!" And now I can personally verify that any NFT claimed to be created by Led Zeppelin, was in fact created at least by the person with the private key.

                          You don't need a blockchain or anything else like it.

                          You just need PGP signatures. They do the same thing.

                          1 vote
                          1. [6]
                            stu2b50
                            Link Parent
                            I was comparing it to physical signatures. Indeed, public-private signatures are a "feature" that can be applied to all digital items. But what IRL items have that digital ones don't is a backing...

                            I was comparing it to physical signatures. Indeed, public-private signatures are a "feature" that can be applied to all digital items. But what IRL items have that digital ones don't is a backing that everyone can trust: namely, the laws of physics.

                            When you get a cool autograph, or a new Pokemon card, you know that it's not going to suddenly disappear. You also have a mechanism to give it to other people (namely, handing it to them).

                            Digital items require someone's computer to put it on. So the advantage of blockchain NFTs over IRL items is that you can do digital techniques like signing, plus the convenience of being digital. The advantage over a row in a SQL database is that you don't need trust over the person hosting the server - you need trust over the blockchain it's on (which may or may not be higher).

                            The con being that a blockchain is inherently a pain in the ass to add transactions to, consensus is currently reached with an extraordinary amount of energy, and that a blockchain's consensus is sound is not something that can be assumed to begin with.

                            1 vote
                            1. [5]
                              vord
                              Link Parent
                              Yea, but you don't need a blockchain to do those signatures. Corey Doctorow did it as a $1 reward for a kickstarter Hell, if you wanted it to be 100% personal, send a public key, and have him sign...

                              Yea, but you don't need a blockchain to do those signatures.

                              Corey Doctorow did it as a $1 reward for a kickstarter

                              Hell, if you wanted it to be 100% personal, send a public key, and have him sign that. 100% provable sinature that you have proof of ownership (anybody can verify both of your private keys).

                              PGP can solve virtually all identification problems. Provided people don't lose their private key. That of course is the big problem. It's not like other ID cards that can be replaced. You lose your PK, you lose access to stuff.

                              1 vote
                              1. [4]
                                stu2b50
                                Link Parent
                                I'm confused to what part of what I said this is addressing because it does not seem to differ from what I said. Indeed, you can sign anything in binary. That's the advantage of digital over...

                                I'm confused to what part of what I said this is addressing because it does not seem to differ from what I said.

                                Indeed, you can sign anything in binary. That's the advantage of digital over physical, not blockchain over anything else. But that's not the differentiator of blockchain vs a more regular datastore.

                                Digital items require someone's computer to put it on. So the advantage of blockchain NFTs over IRL items is that you can do digital techniques like signing, plus the convenience of being digital. The advantage over a row in a SQL database is that you don't need trust over the person hosting the server - you need trust over the blockchain it's on (which may or may not be higher).

                                1. [3]
                                  vord
                                  Link Parent
                                  Ah, I guess I misread a touch. But you don't need to trust 1 database. That's why PGP keyservers are a thing, that are basically just trust chains. You can publish your own, others can validate...

                                  Ah, I guess I misread a touch.

                                  But you don't need to trust 1 database. That's why PGP keyservers are a thing, that are basically just trust chains. You can publish your own, others can validate it.

                                  See keysigning parties.

                                  You know what's better than 1 database or one blockchain for trust? Thousands or millions of interconnected trust circles.

                                  If you have a website, have your public key on it. Post a list of other public keys you trust/verify.

                                  I will readily admit the user experience for PGP still leaves much to be desired. However NFT doesn't provide anything new, other than 'I don't have to trust a DB owner'. And that's easily accomplished by being your own db owner.

                                  1 vote
                                  1. [2]
                                    stu2b50
                                    Link Parent
                                    That's for getting public keys out to people. What PGP doesn't do is enforce uniqueness. For instance, say you have a message for you, signed by a famous artist. What if you want to sell it? You...

                                    That's for getting public keys out to people. What PGP doesn't do is enforce uniqueness. For instance, say you have a message for you, signed by a famous artist. What if you want to sell it? You can duplicate it, but for some reason humans don't ascribe much value to digital copies.

                                    PGP alone ensures authenticity, but it doesn't ensure uniqueness. What can ensure uniqueness is a normal database, that records that this signed message belongs to User X. But you have to trust that the database is correct. That the owner doesn't modify it for their own gain, or simply because they fucked it up by accident.

                                    You can't replace this by running your own registry because it's likely that no one will trust your registry.

                                    4 votes
                                    1. vord
                                      (edited )
                                      Link Parent
                                      That's a whole other philosophical problem. There is no scarcity in the digital realm. Trying to forcibly enforce scarcity is just trying to maintain existing scarcity-based economics which don't...

                                      What if you want to sell it? You can duplicate it, but for some reason humans don't ascribe much value to digital copies.

                                      That's a whole other philosophical problem. There is no scarcity in the digital realm. Trying to forcibly enforce scarcity is just trying to maintain existing scarcity-based economics which don't apply. It's the buggy whips of the information age.

                                      In a post-scarcity world, attribution is the only thing that matters.

                                      3 votes
                          2. [2]
                            Macil
                            (edited )
                            Link Parent
                            Adding the blockchain part is necessary for the NFT to be able to be passed on or traded by the buyer without the buyer being able to duplicate it and without the original seller needing to...

                            Adding the blockchain part is necessary for the NFT to be able to be passed on or traded by the buyer without the buyer being able to duplicate it and without the original seller needing to participate in all the secondary transactions. (Basically the same reasons cryptocurrency uses a blockchain. A blockchain is just a chain of transactions with signatures and a consensus mechanism anyway.)

                        2. [3]
                          mrbig
                          Link Parent
                          With all due respect but I don't think anyone would pay for our autographs :P. The example I used referred to Mr. Robert Plant. I really think you're failing to contemplate the essencial...

                          With all due respect but I don't think anyone would pay for our autographs :P. The example I used referred to Mr. Robert Plant.

                          I really think you're failing to contemplate the essencial distinction between physical presence (or physical marks) and digital verification.

                          1. [2]
                            stu2b50
                            Link Parent
                            My point was that it's impossible to counterfeit a NFT, unlike a signature. Indeed, nothing stops random people from minting NFTs of whatever, just like nothing stops random people from signing...

                            With all due respect but I don't think anyone would pay for our autographs

                            My point was that it's impossible to counterfeit a NFT, unlike a signature. Indeed, nothing stops random people from minting NFTs of whatever, just like nothing stops random people from signing whatever. Unlike a signature, an NFT's origin can be verified by anyone.

                            I really think you're failing to contemplate the essencial distinction between physical presence and digital verification.

                            My dude, I am not selling you an NFT. You asked why people want and value NFTs, and I explained why. If you personally consider there to be such a difference between a physical signing and a digital creation, then that's good for you.

                            Many people, evidently, do not care that Jack Dorsey did not personally touch his tweet to mint an NFT of it. That's a fact.

                            1 vote
                            1. mrbig
                              (edited )
                              Link Parent
                              Yeah. I actually went on a tangent and started philosophizing on the subject. Not trying to antagonize. I really think this entire phenomenon is quite baffling.

                              Yeah. I actually went on a tangent and started philosophizing on the subject. Not trying to antagonize. I really think this entire phenomenon is quite baffling.

  3. [2]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    In the 90s, there was a fad called Beanie Babies. They're just stuffed toys, but clever marketing convinced a lot of people that certain types of them were rare and thus collectible. The rare-ness...

    In the 90s, there was a fad called Beanie Babies. They're just stuffed toys, but clever marketing convinced a lot of people that certain types of them were rare and thus collectible. The rare-ness of them was of course 100% artificial scarcity.

    For people who collect Beanie Babies and view them an an investment, it's very important to have an authentic Beanie Baby. For your collectible to keep its value, you really want the certificate of authenticity proving it's not counterfeit - because otherwise the artificial scarcity falls apart.

    I think this particular detail is especially great (emphasis added):

    In early 2008, Ty released a new version of Beanie Babies called Beanie Babies 2.0. The purchase of a Beanie Baby 2.0 provided its owner with a code to access an online Beanie Babies interactive website. The website has since been shut down.

    NFTs are Beanie Babies for techbros.

    It's a certificate of authenticity proving you own something that is valuable solely because it is artificially scarce.

    12 votes
    1. elcuello
      Link Parent
      Ah the ol' Rolex approach...those fuckers...

      Ah the ol' Rolex approach...those fuckers...

  4. [11]
    MonkeyPants
    (edited )
    Link
    What makes a banana duct taped to a wall valuable? A certificate of authenticity. Plus presumably the fact that everyone is talking about it. What is an NFT? Typically, it is an ethereum...

    What makes a banana duct taped to a wall valuable? A certificate of authenticity. Plus presumably the fact that everyone is talking about it.

    What is an NFT? Typically, it is an ethereum blockchain certificates of authenticity. Ethereum is Bitcoin 2.0, it adds the ability to authenticate digital contracts etc.

    How does the digital certificate of authenticity relate to the underlying digital art? I don't think it does.

    The buyers are usually not acquiring copyrights, trademarks or even the sole ownership of whatever it is they purchase.

    This, to me, is the absurdity of NFTs. What stops someone creating a second digital certificate of authenticity? Is there a separate legal contract that binds all future copyright owners from doing this? That first guy who bought the banana duct taped on the wall for $120k... How did he feel when two other people bought the same thing?

    I would rather own a Rai stone . They are non-fungible. Which means only one person can own the Rai stone.

    Edit: I just noticed something curious. A physical Rai Stone sold for $14k back in 2015. I wonder, who owns that coin according to the oral history of the tribe? I would rather own the actual stone, than the oral history ownership of the stone. I suspect the stone will last longer than the oral history of the tribe. The oral history of the stone can be corrupted. I can charge royalties to see the actual stone.

    8 votes
    1. [8]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      Digital signatures and cultural values. For instance, if Bob the artist makes 5 NFTs of his work, and proclaims that "My public key is: F!nNwRaqmwtrwX%2c", anyone can go and verify that an NFT...

      What stops someone creating a second digital certificate of authenticity?

      Digital signatures and cultural values.

      For instance, if Bob the artist makes 5 NFTs of his work, and proclaims that "My public key is: F!nNwRaqmwtrwX%2c", anyone can go and verify that an NFT was, in fact, created by Bob.

      So if someone tries to make another one, you can be sure that it's, at the least, not a person with Bob's private key.

      4 votes
      1. [7]
        MonkeyPants
        Link Parent
        Interesting point. But how many artists or corporations have a digital signature used to create NFTs? I believe Dapper Labs owns the digital signature to NBA topshots. Blockchain-for-art.com's...

        Digital signatures

        Interesting point. But how many artists or corporations have a digital signature used to create NFTs? I believe Dapper Labs owns the digital signature to NBA topshots.

        Blockchain-for-art.com's entire value proposition appears to be that artists don't have digital signatures.

        cultural values.

        Again, I come back to the fact that the banana duct taped to a wall sold three times. Sure, the first edition sold only once. But there was a second edition, and a third.

        1. [6]
          stu2b50
          Link Parent
          I'm pretty sure all of them do, just because it's on a blockchain. The entity that created the NFT is identified by their public key. Furthermore you can see the chain of transactions that the NFT...

          I'm pretty sure all of them do, just because it's on a blockchain. The entity that created the NFT is identified by their public key. Furthermore you can see the chain of transactions that the NFT has gone through since creation it's all in a public append-only chain.

          If you let a third party create it for you, then yes, it would depend on how they do it, since the origin would be them. But if you desire for it to be traceable back to you, then you do not lack the ability.

          The ability for other people to mint NFTs isn't a particular problem.

          1 vote
          1. [5]
            MonkeyPants
            Link Parent
            I'm sorry, I don't understand. What stops Dapper Labs creating 1,000 NFT's for a very popular top shot? What stops Dapper Labs creating a second NFT for one very highly priced topshot? I think the...

            I'm sorry, I don't understand.

            What stops Dapper Labs creating 1,000 NFT's for a very popular top shot?

            What stops Dapper Labs creating a second NFT for one very highly priced topshot?

            I think the answer is cultural values, as I think there is nothing that technically forces NFT to only have one record for the underlying art.

            1. Greg
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Nothing stops them minting more*, but you can easily tell them apart. As with the banana, or a rare book, they can't create a second first edition. Maybe that's what you mean about cultural...

              Nothing stops them minting more*, but you can easily tell them apart. As with the banana, or a rare book, they can't create a second first edition. Maybe that's what you mean about cultural values: there's nothing inherently special about a first edition or an original beyond the value we give it.

              Did the subsequent wall-bananas do anything to devalue the first?


              * [Edit] @skybrian raises a good point - nothing technical stops them, but they'd probably find themselves in breach of contract.

              3 votes
            2. skybrian
              Link Parent
              It's likely that they have a contract with the NBA about what they're allowed to do, so they'd have to negotiate with the NBA to change the contract. This is one way cultural values get...

              It's likely that they have a contract with the NBA about what they're allowed to do, so they'd have to negotiate with the NBA to change the contract.

              This is one way cultural values get entrenched. It's easy for people to change their minds, but not so easy to change a pile of contracts.

              This is why it's misleading to claim that a currency's value comes only from collective belief. It's not enough to get people to change their beliefs. It also requires changing all the contracts and laws and computer code. Fixing all that legacy stuff would take an enormous amount of work, even if we collectively decided tomorrow that we have to change the system due to some disaster.

              But I expect that the pile of contracts for NFT's is very shallow, so it wouldn't be hard to abandon it at this point.

              1 vote
            3. [2]
              Macil
              Link Parent
              They could. (Well, people would be able to tell the difference between the original and the later ones, but it's possible that them making more would dilute the value of the original anyway.) But...

              What stops Dapper Labs creating 1,000 NFT's for a very popular top shot?

              They could. (Well, people would be able to tell the difference between the original and the later ones, but it's possible that them making more would dilute the value of the original anyway.) But that's not very different than many other collectibles: a company making baseball cards could suddenly decide to print a thousand times more copies of a popular card, a band could suddenly decide to go on an autographing spree, a famous painter who rarely released highly-prized works could decide to flood the market of people who buy from them with a lot of new paintings, etc.

              1 vote
              1. Eylrid
                Link Parent
                That happens a lot. A lot of "collectables" are worthless because they were mass produced: beanie babies, cabbage patch kids, star wars toys, baseball cards from the '80s and '90s, etc.

                That happens a lot. A lot of "collectables" are worthless because they were mass produced: beanie babies, cabbage patch kids, star wars toys, baseball cards from the '80s and '90s, etc.

                2 votes
    2. [2]
      elcuello
      Link Parent
      Fascinating story about those Rai stones. I see why you would rather own the physical stone because your story about their story would be more valuable to us Well back in those days the chance of...

      Edit: I just noticed something curious. A physical Rai Stone sold for $14k back in 2015. I wonder, who owns that coin according to the oral history of the tribe? I would rather own the actual stone, than the oral history ownership of the stone. I suspect the stone will last longer than the oral history of the tribe.

      Fascinating story about those Rai stones. I see why you would rather own the physical stone because your story about their story would be more valuable to us

      The oral history of the stone can be corrupted. I can charge royalties to see the actual stone.

      Well back in those days the chance of that happening seems unlikely but couple that with your last sentence and we have a sad view of society today.

      1 vote
      1. MonkeyPants
        Link Parent
        Not sure I understand your point there. I was thinking in terms of analogy to NFTs, private ethereum keys can theoretically be hacked/ attacked, ethereum might eventually become defunct, where as...

        couple that with your last sentence and we have a sad view of society today.

        Not sure I understand your point there.

        I was thinking in terms of analogy to NFTs, private ethereum keys can theoretically be hacked/ attacked, ethereum might eventually become defunct, where as the ownership of the copyright can generate royalties in perpetuity.

        1 vote
  5. [5]
    Deimos
    Link
    This article from a couple of weeks ago spends a fair amount of time talking about general issues with cryptocurrency too, but also covers NFTs specifically and I thought it was a good read...

    This article from a couple of weeks ago spends a fair amount of time talking about general issues with cryptocurrency too, but also covers NFTs specifically and I thought it was a good read overall: Cryptocurrencies and NFTs are an absolute disaster for so many more reasons than the ecological

    7 votes
    1. mrbig
      Link Parent
      That's what I wanted to say after learning more about the subject. Thank you for sharing.

      Digital files don’t have that much going for them. They store monumentally less information than say, a piece of paper- which contains the artwork on it as well as inscribed histories of hand, pen, ink, pulp, forest- a dense connected materiality that unfolds forever. A digital file is a pauper in comparison. A file breaks down to requisite ones and zeros well before one can reach the atomic composition of the materials in a physical drawing

      That's what I wanted to say after learning more about the subject. Thank you for sharing.

      2 votes
    2. skybrian
      Link Parent
      This part doesn’t seem quite right: Electricity isn’t a single market. Miners look for cheap electricity, and it’s often cheap for a reason. Some reasons are seasonal surplus hydropower (as...

      This part doesn’t seem quite right:

      Furthermore, the “green energy” of cryptocurrency mining generally does not operate on a separate power grid. Using green energy sources still means pulling power out of a system also used to power houses, which drives up cost and encourages and funds new energy capture projects, including in coal, oil and gas.

      Electricity isn’t a single market. Miners look for cheap electricity, and it’s often cheap for a reason. Some reasons are seasonal surplus hydropower (as happens in China) or “stranded” natural gas where there’s no pipeline to take it.

      Another possibility might be overprovisioned solar power. As solar gets cheaper and power lines don’t, it may make sense to install more solar panels to increase utilization of an expensive power line. The customers on the other end of the power line get more reliable electricity and the excess (when the power line is at max capacity) could be sold to a customer that co-locates and is okay with unreliable power. (The metaphor used by finance types for this sort of thing is “using every part of the cow.”) So that would be a situation where there are electricity users who don’t really compete.

      (That’s just theoretical though.)

      2 votes
    3. [2]
      suspended
      Link Parent
      I have yet to see a well articulated nor an academic rebuttal to Derrick Jensen's Endgame premises: Until these are addressed we might as well be shouting into the void.

      I have yet to see a well articulated nor an academic rebuttal to Derrick Jensen's Endgame premises:

      Premise One: Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization.

      Premise Two: Traditional communities do not often voluntarily give up or sell the resources on which their communities are based until their communities have been destroyed. They also do not willingly allow their landbases to be damaged so that other resources—gold, oil, and so on—can be extracted. It follows that those who want the resources will do what they can to destroy traditional communities.

      Premise Three: Our way of living—industrial civilization—is based on, requires, and would collapse very quickly without persistent and widespread violence.

      Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.

      Premise Five: The property of those higher on the hierarchy is more valuable than the lives of those below. It is acceptable for those above to increase the amount of property they control—in everyday language, to make money—by destroying or taking the lives of those below. This is called production. If those below damage the property of those above, those above may kill or otherwise destroy the lives of those below. This is called justice.

      Premise Six: Civilization is not redeemable. This culture will not undergo any sort of voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living. If we do not put a halt to it, civilization will continue to immiserate the vast majority of humans and to degrade the planet until it (civilization, and probably the planet) collapses. The effects of this degradation will continue to harm humans and nonhumans for a very long time.

      Premise Seven: The longer we wait for civilization to crash—or the longer we wait before we ourselves bring it down—the messier will be the crash, and the worse things will be for those humans and nonhumans who live during it, and for those who come after.

      Premise Eight: The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of the economic system.

      Another way to put premise Eight: Any economic or social system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and stupid. Sustainability, morality, and intelligence (as well as justice) requires the dismantling of any such economic or social system, or at the very least disallowing it from damaging your landbase.

      Premise Nine: Although there will clearly some day be far fewer humans than there are at present, there are many ways this reduction in population could occur (or be achieved, depending on the passivity or activity with which we choose to approach this transformation). Some of these ways would be characterized by extreme violence and privation: nuclear armageddon, for example, would reduce both population and consumption, yet do so horrifically; the same would be true for a continuation of overshoot, followed by crash. Other ways could be characterized by less violence. Given the current levels of violence by this culture against both humans and the natural world, however, it’s not possible to speak of reductions in population and consumption that do not involve violence and privation, not because the reductions themselves would necessarily involve violence, but because violence and privation have become the default. Yet some ways of reducing population and consumption, while still violent, would consist of decreasing the current levels of violence required, and caused by, the (often forced) movement of resources from the poor to the rich, and would of course be marked by a reduction in current violence against the natural world. Personally and collectively we may be able to both reduce the amount and soften the character of violence that occurs during this ongoing and perhaps longterm shift. Or we may not. But this much is certain: if we do not approach it actively—if we do not talk about our predicament and what we are going to do about it—the violence will almost undoubtedly be far more severe, the privation more extreme.

      Premise Ten: The culture as a whole and most of its members are insane. The culture is driven by a death urge, an urge to destroy life.

      Premise Eleven: From the beginning, this culture—civilization—has been a culture of occupation.

      Premise Twelve: There are no rich people in the world, and there are no poor people. There are just people. The rich may have lots of pieces of green paper that many pretend are worth something—or their presumed riches may be even more abstract: numbers on hard drives at banks—and the poor may not. These “rich” claim they own land, and the “poor” are often denied the right to make that same claim. A primary purpose of the police is to enforce the delusions of those with lots of pieces of green paper. Those without the green papers generally buy into these delusions almost as quickly and completely as those with. These delusions carry with them extreme consequences in the real world.

      Premise Thirteen: Those in power rule by force, and the sooner we break ourselves of llusions to the contrary, the sooner we can at least begin to make reasonable decisions about whether, when, and how we are going to resist.

      Premise Fourteen: From birth on—and probably from conception, but I’m not sure how I’d make the case—we are individually and collectively enculturated to hate life, hate the natural world, hate the wild, hate wild animals, hate women, hate children, hate our bodies, hate and fear our emotions, hate ourselves. If we did not hate the world, we could not allow it to be destroyed before our eyes. If we did not hate ourselves, we could not allow our homes—and our bodies—to be poisoned.

      Premise Fifteen: Love does not imply pacifism.

      Premise Sixteen: The material world is primary. This does not mean that the spirit does not exist, nor that the material world is all there is. It means that spirit mixes with flesh. It means also that real world actions have real world consequences. It means we cannot rely on Jesus, Santa Claus, the Great Mother, or even the Easter Bunny to get us out of this mess. It means this mess really is a mess, and not just the movement of God’s eyebrows. It means we have to face this mess ourselves. It means that for the time we are here on Earth—whether or not we end up somewhere else after we die, and whether we are condemned or privileged to live here—the Earth is the point. It is primary. It is our home. It is everything. It is silly to think or act or be as though this world is not real and primary. It is silly and pathetic to not live our lives as though our lives are real.

      Premise Seventeen: It is a mistake (or more likely, denial) to base our decisions on whether actions arising from these will or won’t frighten fence-sitters, or the mass of Americans.

      Premise Eighteen: Our current sense of self is no more sustainable than our current use of energy or technology.

      Premise Nineteen: The culture’s problem lies above all in the belief that controlling and abusing the natural world is justifiable.

      Premise Twenty: Within this culture, economics—not community well-being, not morals, not ethics, not justice, not life itself—drives social decisions.

      Until these are addressed we might as well be shouting into the void.

      1. tesseractcat
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Here's my attempt, although it's not exactly academic (I don't necessarily think these premises need an academic response considering many of them are opinions in themselves): Whew, that took a...

        Here's my attempt, although it's not exactly academic (I don't necessarily think these premises need an academic response considering many of them are opinions in themselves):

        Premise One: This is simply an unsubstantiated claim. On a more grand scale this is true, nothing is sustainable as long as entropy rises in the universe. In the short term I think this is incredibly debatable. Renewable energy and techniques exist and are growing more and more popular. 11% of energy in the US is using renewable energy (although if you factor in other consumption I'm sure the number is lower), but any number above zero shows that society is renewable, at least to some extent. Predicting whether or not we can raise this number to something more significant is difficult, and I really don't think anyone could say one way or the other right now.

        Premise Two: This is true, although it's worth pointing out that in the natural world resources are often taken through violence without the interference of humans. The forceful acquisition of another entities' resources has been happening since the first single cell organisms.

        Premise Three: I don't think this is necessarily true. It's certainly true now, (and it was true back when humans were still hunter gatherers). It seems odd to blame it on industrial civilization though, considering every stage of civilization has had to wage some form of war on wildlife. Consider an intelligent alien race that are herbivores, I don't see any reason why they could not evolve to the scale of an industrial civilization and have a significantly lower amount of violence against animals. For humans, there has already been progress on substituting animals in our diets, and it seems presumptuous to think that things will never change for the better here. The other interpretation of this premise is violence against humans, which has been decreasing significantly as industrial civilization has progressed, in fact I think it would be just as apt to argue the opposite, that cumulative violence against humans has decreased as standards of living have risen (as a result of industrial society).

        Premise Four: This is true, however hierarchies are omnipresent in the natural world as well (and are often more violent, with no sense of 'justice' at all). Once again I cite the fact that standards of living have increased as a result of industrial society.

        Premise Five: Once again true, but once again present in nature as well. Personally, it seems silly to advocate for the destruction of civilization just because of the inequal distribution of resources. I suppose it makes sense considering some of the other premises basically state it's futile to change anything about civilization at all, and it will continue onwards until it's destruction, but that seems incredibly nihilistic to me (and ignores much of the progress society has made).

        Premise Six: This is certainly an opinion. I think the premise is looking at human happiness through a utilitarian lens (i.e. has industrial society increased or decreased total human happiness), determining that right now we're in the negative (through some arbitrary calculation), and thus deciding that it's all pointless. To me at least, this feels like a hunter-gatherer saying "We'd never be able to have more than 30 people in a tribe, there just aren't enough animals to hunt". So I guess we'll never be able to tip that scale into the positives, especially considering nothing will change from here on out ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Also, as a side note, it seems pretty arrogant to assume that we are even capable of "destroying" the planet. Changing the atmospheric composition and temperature will only shift the ecological niches around.

        Premise Seven: Or maybe the longer we wait the better things will be. If number of renewable technologies in existence is a function of time, wouldn't it be better to have more in existence when civilization crashes?

        Premise Eight: The economic system is to some extent just an extension of the natural world. I guess this is where my philosophy fundamentally diverges with the author's. Personally even if everything is doomed, I'd rather see where economics and industrial society can go in this incredibly miniscule amount of time before society collapses, rather then attempting to force everything back to the snail like pace of evolution's naïve hill climbing (which is basically a perpetual state of war, most likely resulting in misery for billions of species).

        Premise Nine: I think discussing how to forcefully destroy society will most likely result in more violence than the progress of industrial civilization, but that's just an opinion.

        Premise Ten: This seems to contradict some of the earlier premises. Society isn't driven by some death wish, it's (for the most part) driven by economics (at least according to the premises). Economics may result in death, but it doesn't have too, especially if there are cheaper ways to get resources (like that big ball of energy in the sky).

        Premise Eleven: The author is obviously trying to advocate for a return to the natural world as well, but the natural world itself is a culture of occupation and violence. In the end it seems like a subjective value judgement which one is worse. Maybe I'd have more respect for the argument if it advocated for destroying all life as we know it, because then this premise would be more internally consistent.

        Premise Twelve: There is no life in this world, only collections of cells. Cells don't really care about anything for the most part, so it really doesn't matter what they do. Some collections of cells "claim" that they have subjective experience, but that's not really true. The fact that these collections of cells "claim" to have individual subjective experience has consequences in the real world.... This is obviously a mischaracterization of what life is, but just because something is socially constructed doesn't make it any less real. Language is just a shared "delusion" but it continues to have significant impacts on people. I guess this argument is just a bit pointless, as any social phenomena can be dismissed like this.

        Premise Thirteen: I agree with this. But where I disagree is that I think humans can improve on this. The only way to subvert this is to collectively hold more power, and to create a microcosm where power and force has less effect. The natural world itself is determined to some large extent by fitness, the ability for organisms to exert power and force on others. This is another premise I would respect more if the argument was instead for the abolition of life itself.

        Premise Fourteen: From birth on, some percentage of people grow up believing this. Some percentage of people don't, as encompassed by the large number of people who don't believe this. The author overlooks the alternative: there are things we like more than the long term health of the world's carrying capacity for humans.

        Premise Fifteen: Makes sense.

        Premise Sixteen: I agree with this too, so why do we blindly accept the billions of human (and hundreds of billions of non-human) deaths that have occurred? Seems like this premise could be used as an argument to further life extension technologies.

        Premise Seventeen: I agree.

        Premise Eighteen: Watch this: "Our current sense of self is more sustainable than our current use of energy or technology." I guess you could say any human civilization, with enough resources and time, would eventually develop into industrial society (as it gives more control over the world, which gives it a competitive advantage), which through these premises is unsustainable, and therefore humanity itself is unsustainable. I think this chain of logic makes sense, but just makes returning to a 'natural world' a simple repetition of the cycle.

        Premise Nineteen: Everything in the natural world seeks to control the natural world. Animals evolve into ecological niches, where they can exert the most control over their environment. It seems like a double standard to praise that but dismiss human society. Once again, I'd like to see what this massive amount of control wielded by one species can do (before we inevitably collapse as a civilization, I suppose).

        Premise Twenty: Community well-being, morals, ethics, and justice all drive decisions to some extent, a privilege granted by humanities large amount of control over nature. Economics drives a lot of decisions, that's true, but I think the balance is actually better under human civilization than you'll find anywhere else.

        Whew, that took a while. I'm sure there are rebuttals to be had, and people who have made these points better than I have. I think we've seen some resurgence in this anti-civilization sentiment recently, and while I don't think it's without merit, I find myself more and more optimistic regarding human society (so I suppose we'll see where it goes). If it's doomed to collapse, then I think it's cool that we were able to try something different, at least for a little while. I'll be disappointed if we're forced to end it early.

        3 votes
  6. [3]
    PhantomBand
    Link
    From what I've heard it's practically a sort of certificate showing that you're the original owner of something (like with a piece of art). But I'm not 100% sure about that.

    From what I've heard it's practically a sort of certificate showing that you're the original owner of something (like with a piece of art). But I'm not 100% sure about that.

    4 votes
    1. Good_Apollo
      Link Parent
      That's basically it. I'm convinced the ridiculous numbers just mean this is a new avenue for money laundering and tax evasion. Just a new market for the dirty art world.

      That's basically it. I'm convinced the ridiculous numbers just mean this is a new avenue for money laundering and tax evasion. Just a new market for the dirty art world.

      7 votes
    2. Octofox
      Link Parent
      Everyone is grasping at straws to find something more but this is basically it. The artist creates a value on a blockchain with a link to the work or more info about the work. They then somehow...

      Everyone is grasping at straws to find something more but this is basically it. The artist creates a value on a blockchain with a link to the work or more info about the work. They then somehow bless it (tweet that this token is official) and then sell it to someone else.

      There is nothing stopping the artist from later selling more tokens for the same work or other random people selling tokens for someone elses work. I guess its just up to the public to decide on which token they consider to be the real one.

      But it doesn't matter because in a few years we will have all forgotten about this.

      4 votes
  7. Good_Apollo
    Link
    I think it's idiotic but a bunch of people got together and decided NFT's have value...so they do now. That's pretty much the entirety of the premise. The exact technology or whatever is behind...

    I think it's idiotic but a bunch of people got together and decided NFT's have value...so they do now. That's pretty much the entirety of the premise. The exact technology or whatever is behind NFT's is just an abstraction.

    Why are people buying tweets and digital cards just because they have a unique digital serial number (in essence)? I don't have a goddamn clue, but they are.

    2 votes
  8. Weldawadyathink
    Link
    Nerdcubed did a video about them. It’s more of a hot take than informational, but it does include a good description. https://youtu.be/qdyfVL2nvYs

    Nerdcubed did a video about them. It’s more of a hot take than informational, but it does include a good description.

    https://youtu.be/qdyfVL2nvYs

    1 vote
  9. [5]
    EscReality
    Link
    Off topic but I feel like there has to be a better name for us than this, it just sounds weird.

    but Tilders are smart

    Off topic but I feel like there has to be a better name for us than this, it just sounds weird.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      drannex
      Link Parent
      I remember a discussion on this a while back and I've had it in my head that tilderino was the preferred nomenclature.

      I remember a discussion on this a while back and I've had it in my head that tilderino was the preferred nomenclature.

      1 vote
      1. Good_Apollo
        Link Parent
        Could be worse. Could be Tildos.

        Could be worse. Could be Tildos.

        1 vote
    2. [2]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      That's just what people are using. We had discussions but that's not really something you can or should enforce. I think it follows the logic of "redditor" so maybe that's the reason for the...

      That's just what people are using. We had discussions but that's not really something you can or should enforce. I think it follows the logic of "redditor" so maybe that's the reason for the adoption.

      My preference would be to call us "Tilda Swintons" but it failed to gain traction :P

      1. Sand
        Link Parent
        I think most people are using "tilderino" like Drannex said. Personally I wouldn't use anything other than "tildes user."

        I think most people are using "tilderino" like Drannex said. Personally I wouldn't use anything other than "tildes user."

        4 votes