27 votes

What's up with the NFT hate?

Tags: nft

60 comments

  1. [29]
    bkimmel
    Link
    My big problem with "crypto" generally is that it represents a huge retrograde step for humanity, in my estimation. Rather than gracefully accept the "end of scarcity" and the war and poverty that...
    • Exemplary

    My big problem with "crypto" generally is that it represents a huge retrograde step for humanity, in my estimation. Rather than gracefully accept the "end of scarcity" and the war and poverty that go with it after tens of thousands of years of humanity, we would rather engineer a new kind of scarcity we can impose upon ourselves. It's like the worst thing Agent Smith said about humanity in the original Matrix movie, that the machines had to make it brutal or people wouldn't accept it. I've been following Bitcoin since someone bought the first pizza with them (for a few thousand, iirc) and I never bought any but knowing what I know now, I still don't think I would because this concept of "engineered scarcity" just disgusts me so much.

    38 votes
    1. [8]
      Seven
      Link Parent
      At the end of the day, that's my core philosophical issue with crypto: that I am fundamentally opposed to digital scarcity as a concept. If you somehow solve the environmental issues (proof of...

      At the end of the day, that's my core philosophical issue with crypto: that I am fundamentally opposed to digital scarcity as a concept. If you somehow solve the environmental issues (proof of stake kind of does this but mostly just kicks the environmental cost down the road), the massive amount of scams, the multitudes of automatically generated ugly monkey avatars, and the endless supply of bugs, artificial scarcity is fundamentally bad in my opinion. The reason why digital copyright law and DMCA is completely inconsistent and doesn't reflect the way we interact with digital goods, why DRM is difficult to implement and negatively effects all users is because the concepts of ownership and scarcity are opposed to digital-ness as a concept. Once you are able to make completely identical copies of thing, ownership doesn't mean anything anymore. And instead of embracing this digital utopia where there is no scarcity and all information is shared freely, crypto enthusiasts have instead created new ways to introduce paywalls to the internet. A future governed by crypto would be bad for everyone, especially when it's so easy to just share everything freely with everyone.

      23 votes
      1. [7]
        meff
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        But it's not. Somebody is running the internet services that enable sharing data. Somebody is running internet services that store data. Somebody is in charge of actually maintaining the...

        especially when it's so easy to just share everything freely with everyone.

        But it's not. Somebody is running the internet services that enable sharing data. Somebody is running internet services that store data. Somebody is in charge of actually maintaining the infrastructure. All of these people are spending their time to help a user "just share everything freely". The only reason so much of the net that most people use today is free is because their data is getting sucked up and sold on advertising markets; to compensate the humans that spend time creating and maintaining these services, and then to take the extra compensation as profit back into the businesses running these services. We're seeing the same practices come into the physical world with advertising being used to underwrite the costs of public spaces as well.

        Moreover, the reality is that most countries around the world have market economies where internet services compensate their employees, owners, and shareholders through money. To me it feels like you're ideologically opposing crypto because it treats the world more as it is rather than as it should be when I think the internet should reflect the world around us instead.

        7 votes
        1. [4]
          Seven
          Link Parent
          The vast majority of that profit lines the pockets of millionaire investors. And most of the web is built on open-source software, maintained by people who want to do it for free. The recent...
          • Exemplary

          The vast majority of that profit lines the pockets of millionaire investors. And most of the web is built on open-source software, maintained by people who want to do it for free. The recent prevalence of advertising on the internet is because of the invasion of massive megacorporations. Before that happened, the vast majority of the internet was sharing information for free. It's not a natural function of the internet that it must be monetized into oblivion. You seem to think that the world around us is inherently profit-seeking, but it's not. The world is that way because of a few capitalists who enslave the majority of humanity in wage labor for profit. Capitalism isn't an inherent feature of the internet in the same way it's not an inherent feature of the world. The world is the way it is because people are making decisions, either consciously or unconsciously, to make it that way.

          18 votes
          1. [3]
            meff
            Link Parent
            Is it? I'm pretty sure most of the technology, from Nginx to the Java language, is maintained by people who are being paid to maintain it. There was a brief moment in the early 2000s where this...

            And most of the web is built on open-source software, maintained by people who want to do it for free

            Is it? I'm pretty sure most of the technology, from Nginx to the Java language, is maintained by people who are being paid to maintain it. There was a brief moment in the early 2000s where this might have been true. It wasn't true before and I don't think it's true now.

            Before that happened, the vast majority of the internet was sharing information for free. It's not a natural function of the internet that it must be monetized into oblivion.

            Small communities share information for free all the time and that's what the Internet used to be until the late '90s. Managing information for a few thousand people is a lot simpler than managing it for millions of people. I'd even guess that the effort scales exponentially.

            You seem to think that the world around us is inherently profit-seeking, but it's not.

            I don't. I'm just saying that the reality is that the world around us right now is profit-seeking. Not everyone wants to spend all their time and energy trying to change the world politically or ideologically. I think first-and-foremost the internet should reflect the people in it before trying to change the world. I think it's more useful for humanity to take the current, extant real world and transfer it into the digital world and then give humans the tools to make change from there rather than having us impose our views upon humanity instead. Have governments and communities create the laws and institutions necessary to safeguard human life and dignity. In the meantime, let's offer value to humans in the here and now by representing their everyday lives in a digital space.


            N.B. This isn't a remark toward you in particular. I find the breathless anti-capitalism on this site exhausting and frankly a bit like gaslighting. Being an anti-capitalist is definitely a valid viewpoint but the reality is that most people in developed or developing nations live in capitalist countries and societies. I don't want to constantly have to pretend like capitalism is evil, I just want to talk about my real life. In my real life I have money, go to stores or online, buy things, and then use them. These are my lived experiences. Just like despite being a strong environmentalist and not using central cooling/heating or cars myself, I recognize and accept that others do these things and do not repeatedly criticize these actions.

            8 votes
            1. [2]
              Seven
              Link Parent
              From a cursory Google search, I've found articles saying that over 60% of web servers use Apache or Nginx, which are both FOSS, articles saying that 78 percent of companies run open-source...

              Is it? I'm pretty sure most of the technology, from Nginx to the Java language, is maintained by people who are being paid to maintain it.

              From a cursory Google search, I've found articles saying that over 60% of web servers use Apache or Nginx, which are both FOSS, articles saying that 78 percent of companies run open-source software, and articles saying that, as of 2018, 57% of the code in proprietary apps use open-source code.

              I appreciate your honesty about your frustrations with anti-capitalism. Unfortunately, I think this is where we are fundamentally at odds. Most of my arguments against crypto are just extensions of my problems with capitalism, so if you're not on board with anti-capitalism, I understand how my arguments against crypto, especially my philosophical arguments against crypto, wouldn't stick. (I don't really understand how someone could be pro-capitalism, but I don't think I can convince you otherwise.)

              4 votes
              1. meff
                Link Parent
                Nginx has Nginx Plus which is a paid product used to fund development on Nginx itself. I'd caution equating "open-source" with "unpaid maintainer". I think a lot of open source projects these days...

                From a cursory Google search, I've found articles saying that over 60% of web servers use Apache or Nginx, which are both FOSS, articles saying that 78 percent of companies run open-source software, and articles saying that, as of 2018, 57% of the code in proprietary apps use open-source code.

                Nginx has Nginx Plus which is a paid product used to fund development on Nginx itself. I'd caution equating "open-source" with "unpaid maintainer". I think a lot of open source projects these days have paid maintainers.

                8 votes
        2. [2]
          spit-evil-olive-tips
          Link Parent
          I agree that this far from the ideal setup...but blockchains and cryptocurrency don't make this any better. it actually makes it much worse. from The Web3 Fraud: the infrastructure to run the...

          The only reason so much of the net that most people use today is free is because their data is getting sucked up and sold on advertising markets

          I agree that this far from the ideal setup...but blockchains and cryptocurrency don't make this any better. it actually makes it much worse.

          from The Web3 Fraud:

          The current transaction fees for 30M in gas consumed is over 1 Ether. At the current price of roughly $4000 per Ether this means a second of Ethereum’s compute costs $250. So a mere second of Ethereum’s virtual machine costs 25 times more than a month of my far more capable EC2 instance. Or could buy me several Raspberry Pis.

          So the cost of writing a single 3kB message to the Ethereum blockchain is the same price as a year of storage on Amazon for the entire 1 TB Ethereum blockchain. Or the same price as buying a 1 TB M.2 SSD.

          the infrastructure to run the internet is expensive, and so the companies that run it and offer "free" services on it have to find some other way of extracting revenue from their users. which typically means showing them ads, selling their data, or both. usually both.

          but "web3" crap is incredibly expensive to run. orders of magnitude more than what we have now. if the goal is to make the internet less dependent on centralized capital it's a huge step backwards.

          decentralization always sounds like a noble goal...but if your plan for decentralization involves a huge increase in cost, it will naturally end up concentrated only among the people wealthy enough to afford it...which is its own form of centralization.

          Moreover, the reality is that most countries around the world have market economies where internet services compensate their employees, owners, and shareholders through money. To me it feels like you're ideologically opposing crypto because it treats the world more as it is rather than as it should be when I think the internet should reflect the world around us instead.

          wait...by criticizing cryptocurrency I'm...defending capitalism? and the concept of international borders? that's news to me, because I'm against all three of them.

          7 votes
          1. meff
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Not everything is Ethereum. To name an example (just to actually show something), there's Algorand which is a PoS blockchain that doesn't have these inane gas prices and can still represent...

            but "web3" crap is incredibly expensive to run. orders of magnitude more than what we have now. if the goal is to make the internet less dependent on centralized capital it's a huge step backwards.

            Not everything is Ethereum. To name an example (just to actually show something), there's Algorand which is a PoS blockchain that doesn't have these inane gas prices and can still represent commerce just fine. There's (IMO) a lot wrong with Ethereum. The gas price incentives, the idiotic Solidity smart contract interface leading to endless vulnerabilities, the lack of guidance for application developers leading to even more vulnerabilities; I can wax and wane endlessly on the flaws of Ethereum.

            (As an aside, I don't know why "web3" suddenly became a thing to laugh at. It's always just been the name of the JS library to interface with the Ethereum chain RPC, but I guess someone made some viral swipe at it and now everyone is hating on the term. The internet is weird, mobs form overnight.)

            decentralization always sounds like a noble goal...but if your plan for decentralization involves a huge increase in cost, it will naturally end up concentrated only among the people wealthy enough to afford it...which is its own form of centralization.

            You have to pay in some resource. If you want to use Tor to remain anonymous on the net, then you're going to pay in the form of time, in the form of the latency introduced by onion routing and encryption.

            wait...by criticizing cryptocurrency I'm...defending capitalism? and the concept of international borders? that's news to me, because I'm against all three of them.

            I think you got it backwards. What I'm saying is, defending commerce on the web is just defending the status quo of most governments right now. By swiping at crypto and web commerce on ideological grounds, you're criticizing the efforts of people to replicate people's real world experiences on the net. I personally find personal cars foolish, but I don't spend time hating on every new car model announcement that comes out or criticizing anyone that mentions driving to the store. I recognize that these folks are not making an ideological choice to support the personal car as much as they're living in the status quo. Likewise when cryptocurrency tries to replicate commercial aspects of real life into the net, it's just about replicating the status quo.

            1 vote
    2. [17]
      meff
      Link Parent
      What do cryptocurrencies (I presume it's not cryptography you mean) have to do with artificial scarcity? Digital art NFTs sure, but cryptocurrency? Are you referring to the deflationary nature of...

      What do cryptocurrencies (I presume it's not cryptography you mean) have to do with artificial scarcity? Digital art NFTs sure, but cryptocurrency? Are you referring to the deflationary nature of many coins?

      4 votes
      1. [16]
        babypuncher
        Link Parent
        The rate at which new coins pumped into the blockchain is artificially limited. Computers can generate a virtually endless supply of cryptographic tokens for essentially nothing. This is the very...

        The rate at which new coins pumped into the blockchain is artificially limited. Computers can generate a virtually endless supply of cryptographic tokens for essentially nothing. This is the very definition of artificial scarcity. We are separating people into groups of haves and have-nots over a resource that has literally no intrinsic value.

        15 votes
        1. [15]
          meff
          Link Parent
          If everyone had an unlimited amount of whatever quantity, then this quantity wouldn't have any use representing any asset. That's just the definition of a digital asset; there's a limited amount...

          The rate at which new coins pumped into the blockchain is artificially limited.

          If everyone had an unlimited amount of whatever quantity, then this quantity wouldn't have any use representing any asset. That's just the definition of a digital asset; there's a limited amount of them. Whether you peg the digital asset to some physical assets or whether you believe the digital asset has value of its own, you still need a way to keep track of who has which amounts. Even if it's just a row in a table or a line in a ledger.

          We are separating people into groups of haves and have-nots over a resource that has literally no intrinsic value.

          "Intrinsic value" is probably one of the thorniest matters of economics both from a theoretical and a practical perspective. For example, some people heavily value magical internet points and try to earn more. Others use magical internet points as feedback. Others yet couldn't care less about internet points. When it comes to theory, everyone from Marxists to Austrian-school capitalists have their theories of value. I'm not sure you'll ever find agreement here, at least in our lifetime.

          6 votes
          1. [14]
            vord
            Link Parent
            The issue is that the online realm does not need (or really facilitate) scarcity. The only expensive copy to make is the first one. Creating a digital currency with "value" undermines the...

            The issue is that the online realm does not need (or really facilitate) scarcity. The only expensive copy to make is the first one.

            Creating a digital currency with "value" undermines the post-scarcity nature of the internet. And I think that's what @babypuncher was getting at...introducing a purely digital currency is not an advancement, it's clinging to the past.

            9 votes
            1. wervenyt
              Link Parent
              The post-scarcity nature of the internet...that's also hosting the bulk of the modern capitalist infrastructure? I don't follow how cryptocurrency is in any way special in tainting the...

              The post-scarcity nature of the internet...that's also hosting the bulk of the modern capitalist infrastructure? I don't follow how cryptocurrency is in any way special in tainting the 'ideological purity' of the digital age.

              3 votes
            2. [5]
              skybrian
              Link Parent
              While I'm happy that a lot of stuff on the Internet can be freely copied, I think we should have some sympathy for artists who want to make a living. Yes, NFT's are a racket but physical art often...

              While I'm happy that a lot of stuff on the Internet can be freely copied, I think we should have some sympathy for artists who want to make a living. Yes, NFT's are a racket but physical art often is too.

              Sometimes the reason artists are interesting is because they've figured out a clever way to make something seem valuable and build their brand. Banksy seems to be having fun and so are the art buyers he's basically taking advantage of.

              Contemporary art museums are more fun when instead of thinking "there's no way that's worth putting in a museum" you think, "wow, look what that guy got away with."

              3 votes
              1. [4]
                vord
                Link Parent
                By definition, everything is. Viewing it on your screen has quite literally made a copy. The only scarce copy of a TV/Movie/Image/Song is the first one.

                While I'm happy that a lot of stuff on the Internet can be freely copied

                By definition, everything is. Viewing it on your screen has quite literally made a copy.

                The only scarce copy of a TV/Movie/Image/Song is the first one.

                2 votes
                1. [3]
                  skybrian
                  Link Parent
                  There is DRM which sometimes gets in the way of making an unencrypted copy, as well server-side software that you can only interact with.

                  There is DRM which sometimes gets in the way of making an unencrypted copy, as well server-side software that you can only interact with.

                  2 votes
                  1. [2]
                    vord
                    Link Parent
                    DRM for non-interactive media is snake oil. In the end, no matter how well something is encrypted, if you need someone to see it, you've got to give them the key. And even if you manage to encrypt...

                    DRM for non-interactive media is snake oil. In the end, no matter how well something is encrypted, if you need someone to see it, you've got to give them the key. And even if you manage to encrypt all the way to the pixel, there's still the analog loophole. With all these streaming services, pretty much anything available on them can be pirated immediately if there is desire.

                    Even the best game DRM has been cracked. Server-side gaming is a different beast though. Even then, a dedicated group can reverse engineer it (see pirate WoW servers).

                    2 votes
                    1. skybrian
                      Link Parent
                      Well, yes, but it seems to work well enough to keep Netflix and Spotify in business, and even to keep people complaining about paywalled websites despite the archive sites. Most web forums also...

                      Well, yes, but it seems to work well enough to keep Netflix and Spotify in business, and even to keep people complaining about paywalled websites despite the archive sites.

                      Most web forums also don't want to host pirated stuff either. That seems a bit short of unrestricted copying? I think that should be reserved for content with a license allowing it.

                      2 votes
            3. [7]
              meff
              Link Parent
              I don't think the internet was ever meant to be post-scarcity. I don't think that was even a dream back in the BBS days, except by some people. The internet is just a large interconnected...

              Creating a digital currency with "value" undermines the post-scarcity nature of the internet.

              I don't think the internet was ever meant to be post-scarcity. I don't think that was even a dream back in the BBS days, except by some people. The internet is just a large interconnected connection network. It has folks living in developed countries interested in post-scarcity along with folks living under authoritarian regimes. It has folks living in laissez-faire economies and folks living in managed economies. The internet is just a reflection of the humans in it.

              1 vote
              1. [6]
                vord
                Link Parent
                Information is meant to be free.
                2 votes
                1. [5]
                  meff
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  From the start this was a niche subculture of people centered around a few scenes. It's not as if Kleinrock, Vint Cerf or Tim Berner's Lee penned these cultural ideas when developing the net or...

                  From the start this was a niche subculture of people centered around a few scenes. It's not as if Kleinrock, Vint Cerf or Tim Berner's Lee penned these cultural ideas when developing the net or the web. There were paid BBSes from before the net even existed. Usenet was funded by universities of the time. I think FidoNet was the only true unpaid volunteer network (though FidoNet was affectionately nicknamed "Fight-O-Net" and it had its share of drama, so I'm not sure.) Moreover free information is not the same as post-scarcity. Note that these manifestoes on Hacker Culture never indicate that "goods" or "services" should be free, just information. One could make the argument that today's ad-supported internet services are indeed the Hacker Culture's ethos about information writ large: information does travel around freely and ads are used to fund the development of service infrastructure.

                  Moreover the Hacker Culture hasn't exactly aged well. Fundamental tenets like "Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position." have come under lots of scrutiny over the years (and it's certainly not something I believe in its facility though I admire where it comes from.) It's hard to know in hindsight how much of the Hacker Culture was actually present among these different groups and how much it was espoused by groups with ideological leanings such as Stallman and the FOSS movement. But I think it's fair to say that there's very little more than anecdotal support for the internet being a vehicle for post-scarcity.

                  EDIT: As an addendum, I want to also mention that the early internet was highly concentrated in the West. Taken in the context of the West and its history of political thought, a post-scarcity mindset isn't really that far from the pale. But now that most of the internet is probably Chinese and Indians (by sheer population numbers), I think you'd have a hard time convincing these nations of those values. Both China and India took concerted steps to liberalize their economies in the last 40 years to much popular approval in those nations, and both nations have immense trouble guaranteeing basic labor rights to their citizens. Heck, governments routinely censor aspects of their internet, much to the chagrin of modern net neutrality proponents. The internet these days is the world and if the UN can't get the world to agree to anything, I'm hard pressed to see how the internet can.

                  3 votes
                  1. [4]
                    vord
                    Link Parent
                    A niche subculture that made modern computing what it is. The reading on history of free software really helps give additional context. Programming and IT in general has blown up as a whole new...

                    From the start this was a niche subculture of people centered around a few scenes

                    A niche subculture that made modern computing what it is. The reading on history of free software really helps give additional context.

                    Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position

                    Programming and IT in general has blown up as a whole new sector where it doesn't matter what your formal education is, what your job title is, or who you are. Just your skillset. The largest problems WRT to race/sex/etc are a byproduct of early computing being a luxury IMO, especially prior to 1992.

                    But really, in my mind the most defining aspect of hacker culture is this one: "Access to computers-and anything that might teach you something about the way the world works-should be unlimited and total."

                    If that doesn't imply a post-scarcity mindset, I don't know what does.

                    3 votes
                    1. [3]
                      meff
                      Link Parent
                      I'm not sure what free software has to do with the net. Free software was about free software. The net was developed independently of free software. The first BBS software CBBS had no ideological...

                      A niche subculture that made modern computing what it is. The reading on history of free software really helps give additional context.

                      I'm not sure what free software has to do with the net. Free software was about free software. The net was developed independently of free software. The first BBS software CBBS had no ideological underpinnings related to freedom of information, free software, or any of the Hacker Manifesto. IP itself originated in the US DoD and was very much not free software. FidoNet was probably the closest to this ideology (at least based on Jennings's quote "see if it could be done, merely for the fun of it") but even then I don't see a necessary link. Free software was an ideology that was created and popularized by Richard Stallman and grew in the culture of MIT's AI Lab.

                      If that doesn't imply a post-scarcity mindset, I don't know what does.

                      I just don't see it. I can see how wishful thinking can connect the two, but I just don't see any historical evidence that such a strong ideology was espoused by any of the original networking technology pioneers. Again, I don't dispute that there were groups what believed in this subculture. But at the height of the Cold War and its anti-Communist rhetoric in the US, and the DoD origins of IP, I have a hard time seeing any link between a post-scarcity dream and the origins of computer networking.

                      2 votes
                      1. [2]
                        vord
                        (edited )
                        Link Parent
                        I think you are confusing the foundation of the net to the use of it. IP is not the internet any more than paper is a book. The medium is unimportant for the content itself. If someone invented a...

                        I think you are confusing the foundation of the net to the use of it. IP is not the internet any more than paper is a book. The medium is unimportant for the content itself.

                        If someone invented a perfect replicator, it does't matter what their intent and motives were. It had created post-scarcity.

                        The net allows rapid transfer of any data at virtually 0 cost. This means information can be post-scarcity, but the legacy mindset prevents it.

                        Crypto is a step backwards. It's creating scarcity for a medium that does not need it. It perpetuates a harmful competitive mindset that we should be working to shed in favor of a cooperative one.

                        Less relevant is that academia made the net. The DoD funded it.

                        3 votes
                        1. meff
                          Link Parent
                          I'm confused about how this relates to your parent posts. You posted about the Hacker Manifesto and information being free. When I said that communication networks have nothing to do with these...

                          If someone invented a perfect replicator, it does't matter what their intent and motives were. It had created post-scarcity.

                          I'm confused about how this relates to your parent posts. You posted about the Hacker Manifesto and information being free. When I said that communication networks have nothing to do with these ideals or manifestos, you say that the subculture associated with the Hacker Manifesto had an outsized influence on the early net. When I push back on that, you say "If someone invented a perfect replicator, it does't matter what their intent and motives were. It had created post-scarcity." This is unrelated to the discussion on the Hacker Manifesto.

                          The goalposts in this line of inquiry are shifting and I don't know what we're discussing anymore. I think I'm done here. Cheers.

                          1 vote
    3. Macil
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Artificial scarcity of an easily tradable item is useful because it gives us a tool to trade other forms of scarce items. Money itself is artificially scarce and that's exactly what makes it work....

      Artificial scarcity of an easily tradable item is useful because it gives us a tool to trade other forms of scarce items. Money itself is artificially scarce and that's exactly what makes it work. Money would become useless if scarcity wasn't engineered into it and if banks were instead allowed to print unlimited amounts or set accounts to higher values completely freely.

      I don't mean to argue in this that there aren't other reasonable reasons to be skeptical about cryptocurrency, but artificial scarcity itself seems like a deeply confused reason to dislike it.

      3 votes
    4. skybrian
      Link Parent
      I think the "engineered scarcity" argument makes sense for most NFT's but not cryptocurrency. Money isn't useless and it doesn't work if you can create as much as you like. There are other...

      I think the "engineered scarcity" argument makes sense for most NFT's but not cryptocurrency. Money isn't useless and it doesn't work if you can create as much as you like.

      There are other problems with cryptocurrency.

      3 votes
    5. Fiachra
      Link Parent
      This take really resonates with me. I think it really makes sense that in a world and culture where many believe that access to scarce resources is a necessary carrot to motivate people to work,...

      This take really resonates with me. I think it really makes sense that in a world and culture where many believe that access to scarce resources is a necessary carrot to motivate people to work, there would be a cultural backlash to a post-scarcity world inching closer and closer.

      If the current social order depends on scarcity, and you benefit from that order, and that scarcity could potentially go away, of course you would try to deify scarcity as a social good. Of course you would evangelise that society should choose to have scarcity even when our environment doesn't impose it on us.

      2 votes
  2. [29]
    Odysseus
    Link
    My biggest gripe is that NFTs (and crypto in general for the most part) solve a problem that doesn't exist, causes great harm to the environment, while simultaneously benefiting no one except the...

    My biggest gripe is that NFTs (and crypto in general for the most part) solve a problem that doesn't exist, causes great harm to the environment, while simultaneously benefiting no one except the lucky few who stand to turn a profit.

    33 votes
    1. [23]
      Seven
      Link Parent
      Blockchain is a technology in search of a use case to justify itself.

      Blockchain is a technology in search of a use case to justify itself.

      24 votes
      1. [22]
        Grzmot
        Link Parent
        I understand what you mean, but the block chain solves the problem of money transfers on a decentralized system fairly well I think. It's a very complicated problem to solve if you do not want to...

        I understand what you mean, but the block chain solves the problem of money transfers on a decentralized system fairly well I think. It's a very complicated problem to solve if you do not want to rely on centralized systems, and that was the original intention; to take away power from the banks and return it to the people.

        Of course you have the big question left standing is that if such an important issue is so hard to fix, why not just use a centralized system? It has worked out so far.

        7 votes
        1. [6]
          vord
          Link Parent
          I forget where I heard it: If you don't want a centralized system, just send some envelopes full of cash. The trust model is roughly equivalent.

          I forget where I heard it:

          Cryptocurrency is a speedrun on why we have financial regulations for techbro libertarians.

          If you don't want a centralized system, just send some envelopes full of cash. The trust model is roughly equivalent.

          18 votes
          1. [5]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            I don't see why you think that? Cash sent in the mail can easily be stolen. Bitcoin has downsides but it's better than that. A more relevant comparison would be to businesses that do international...

            I don't see why you think that? Cash sent in the mail can easily be stolen. Bitcoin has downsides but it's better than that.

            A more relevant comparison would be to businesses that do international money transfer like Western Union. I suspect Bitcoin's transaction fees make Western Union a better bet, but I haven't done the comparison. Also there are places where Western Union isn't an option.

            3 votes
            1. [4]
              kari
              Link Parent
              I mean, 51% attacks are still possible on Bitcoin even if it'd be incredibly difficult, so BTC can 100% be stolen. This article goes into it in the "Proof of Work: Tragedy of the Comments"...

              I mean, 51% attacks are still possible on Bitcoin even if it'd be incredibly difficult, so BTC can 100% be stolen. This article goes into it in the "Proof of Work: Tragedy of the Comments" section, but essentially over time it's likely that BTC will be exclusively mined by a few incredibly massive groups and, even if they don't actually have 51% of the mining power, they can band together to form a cartel and manipulate BTC in ways they like.

              4 votes
              1. [3]
                skybrian
                Link Parent
                This binary way of thinking (either the money can or can't be stolen) and doesn't work well for risk assessment. A 51% attack on Bitcoin would be front page news and finding an article about a...

                This binary way of thinking (either the money can or can't be stolen) and doesn't work well for risk assessment. A 51% attack on Bitcoin would be front page news and finding an article about a theoretical attack doesn't mean it's going to happen soon. (Smaller cryptocurrencies do need to worry about this more.) I would worry about other problems first, like losing your private key or untrustworthy exchanges. Or just the price going down a lot.

                6 votes
                1. [2]
                  vord
                  Link Parent
                  In addition, BTC can literally be stolen. Just need a keylogger and a file. Or a file and a baseball bat. If you keep the amount under $1,000, it'd be had to distinguish from any other letter. Na...

                  In addition, BTC can literally be stolen. Just need a keylogger and a file. Or a file and a baseball bat.

                  If you keep the amount under $1,000, it'd be had to distinguish from any other letter. Na heck you'd only pay what like 50 cents in fees.

                  Opening someone else's mail is a felony in the USA, fwiw. A regular mugging is less than that IIRC.

                  5 votes
                  1. skybrian
                    Link Parent
                    There is also some small chance that mail will simply be lost, and if you sent cash you would be out of luck. In the US I would send a check.

                    There is also some small chance that mail will simply be lost, and if you sent cash you would be out of luck. In the US I would send a check.

                    1 vote
        2. [2]
          papasquat
          Link Parent
          That's the issue though. Centralized control of currency isn't actually a bad thing, despite what the extremely vocal anarcho-capitalist and libertarian faction of the internet says. It allows...
          • Exemplary

          That's the issue though. Centralized control of currency isn't actually a bad thing, despite what the extremely vocal anarcho-capitalist and libertarian faction of the internet says. It allows appeal processes, regulations, responsible fiscal policy, and faith in the currency based on the stability of the organization in control.

          Decentralized currency does away with all of that stuff, and defacto control of the currency just goes to whoever controls most of the market, or whoever has a lot of social influence. 80 bitcoin wallets control 10% of the market. If one of those large players wanted to, they could completely manipulate the price of the market by sheer brute force (and they probably have), and there are no rules or regulations that could be employed to stop them. They're answerable to no one. As a good example of these two approaches being contrasted against one another, we have a really nice case study: Elon Musk. In 2019, he tweeted that he was going to take Tesla private, without consulting with any shareholders, having a real plan to do so, or thinking through it at all. He just shot a tweet off that had far reaching financial implications. This very quickly shot the price of $TSLA up 14%. Because of that instance of obvious market manipulation, Musk was investigated by the SEC, and was eventually forced to step down as Tesla's chairman, was forced to hire independent director's to Tesla's board and fined $40 million dollars. As rich as Musk is, those penalties are painful. He lost a significant amount of money, and a significant amount of control of a company that he considered wholly his property, which it isn't. He hasn't tweeted clear Tesla stock manipulation messages since.
          Contrast that with what he's been doing with Dogecoin. The currency rises and falls at his whims. He's criticized it, and he's praised it at various times. If Musk was intelligent and had very few scruples; both things we know are true about him, he could be making a killing off of a currency which value rises and falls at his whim. He most likely is, but he will never face any sort of penalties for it because there's no centralized regulations applied to the currency. This kind of thing perfectly illustrates why we have financial regulations in the first place. Markets are not intelligent. People in a huge mob react based on emotion and a vague sense of security and future wealth. They don't critically analyze whats' going on and reward good behavior. It's just not in our nature.

          The value of bitcoin is solely dictated by how much people want bitcoin, which makes it inherently highly volatile. That argument is sometimes made against fiat currency backed by the government, but that's not exactly true. The USD is stable not because people are speculating on it, but because it's issued by the US government, which, along with it, represents the world's largest military, the largest GDP, and the most influential culture the world has ever seen. Those things inspire a great deal of confidence, which prevents panic selloffs, but also FOMO buying sprees. Dealing in USD also means you're dealing with American financial institutions, which are subject to strong FTC and SEC regulations. You know that Bank of America isn't going to just shut down one day and take all of your money, because the people leading it would almost certainly go to jail for a very long time if that happened.

          That leaves the only real motivation for having a decentralized currency is for transactions that you explicitly don't want protections, regulations, and laws around, that leaves illegal purchases, and scams, which are the two categories of purchases that we see cryptocurrency being used for. The issue here however, is that the most popular cryptocurrencies (bitcoin namely) are especially bad at the anonymity needed for those kinds of purchases. They're inherently pseudonymous, the ledger is literally a matter of open record. All it takes is one fuck up at some point with a given wallet, and the feds instantly know every single purchase you've made and when, who you are, and how you got that money. It' a drug dealer/contract killers/child pornographer's nightmare. There are much easier and more clandestine way to transfer currency, although they may not be quite as accessible. Make no mistake though, if the federal government had the resources go after most these kinds of purchases, a lot of people would go to jail.

          NFTs have all of the problems listed above that cryptocurrencies have, plus a LOT more. They're not a commodity because each token fundamentally represents something different, so no one really knows what theyr'e really worth. Because the "market cap" is limited to a single token, that means a single person; whoever owns the thing wholly controls its price. They can sell it for outrageous amounts to fake wallets, artificially boosting the "price". They can mint more and more copies of the same item,. They can steal other people's digital assets and mint an NFT that supposedly belongs to that asset, and countless other scams. Many of the possible scams probably haven't even been imagined yet. The whole thing is just a mess that's attracted the absolute worst aspects of humanity.

          12 votes
          1. Micycle_the_Bichael
            Link Parent
            This isn't the main point of the comment so this should probably be labeled as noise, but there are a lot of political ideologies beyond anarcho-capitialists and libertarians that are against...
            • Exemplary

            despite what the extremely vocal anarcho-capitalist and libertarian faction of the internet says

            This isn't the main point of the comment so this should probably be labeled as noise, but there are a lot of political ideologies beyond anarcho-capitialists and libertarians that are against centralized currencies. In addition to the two listed, every school of anarchism and communism (via the traditional definition of communism) are against centralized currency. Unless there is a group I'm forgetting. Its still a small percentage of the population, but it isn't an idea held to the fringes of right-leaning ideologies.

            7 votes
        3. kari
          Link Parent
          This article goes into it, but it's pretty much guaranteed that Bitcoin will eventually be mined exclusively by a few major mining groups and thus they'll have lots of power. Here's an excerpt...

          This article goes into it, but it's pretty much guaranteed that Bitcoin will eventually be mined exclusively by a few major mining groups and thus they'll have lots of power. Here's an excerpt about that:

          The resulting problem is the tragedy of the commons: as the currency gets closer to having no more new coins to mint, miners will no longer find it worth the effort to mine, as it won’t be worth enough in coin rewards. Users will then have to pay higher transaction fees to miners to offset this; since users will be keen to get the lowest transaction fees possible, there will be gargantuan pressure on miners to achieve the lowest mining costs they can.

          That means that most mining operations that aren’t gigantic and using cheap energy only available in some geographic locations would run at a loss — and nobody is going to mine for a loss. Thus, you would end up with a handful of very large miners, who could easily band together to raise prices and form a cartel, or subvert the blockchain for their own gain if they so chose.

          I'm not super knowledgeable about all the big cryptocurrencies, but I'd assume most others have a limit on the number of coins which would effectively do the same thing.

          And, for smaller cryptos, it's a lot easier to do 51% attacks.

          8 votes
        4. [12]
          Seven
          Link Parent
          How do you do this without some form of off-chain dependency though? You can't just send US dollars through the blockchain without converting it first to some sort of cryptocurrency which will be...

          the block chain solves the problem of money transfers on a decentralized system

          How do you do this without some form of off-chain dependency though? You can't just send US dollars through the blockchain without converting it first to some sort of cryptocurrency which will be speculative by its very nature. And even then you would be dependent on an off-chain source of trust to convert the dollars to crypto, so the entire decentralized nature of it is worthless.

          1. [8]
            wervenyt
            Link Parent
            If you're using the decentralized currency as money, you don't need to convert government-backed currency to it. Whether that's a reasonable approach in the current state of affairs is irrelevant,...

            If you're using the decentralized currency as money, you don't need to convert government-backed currency to it. Whether that's a reasonable approach in the current state of affairs is irrelevant, "the blockchain allows for money transfers on a decentralized system" is accurate.

            2 votes
            1. [7]
              Seven
              Link Parent
              Okay, well in that case, your decentralized money is inherently speculative, which just creates the same problems with crypto we have now. "The blockchain allows for [wildly speculative and...

              Okay, well in that case, your decentralized money is inherently speculative, which just creates the same problems with crypto we have now. "The blockchain allows for [wildly speculative and unstable] money transfers on a decentralized system" is not a use-case that needed to be solved. It's a use case that was invented for the blockchain.

              3 votes
              1. [4]
                wervenyt
                Link Parent
                Insisting that your political perspective is the only valid one doesn't actually make a case. The fact that the current global economy can be strongarmed by a few national governments doesn't...

                Insisting that your political perspective is the only valid one doesn't actually make a case. The fact that the current global economy can be strongarmed by a few national governments doesn't change that all attempts to apply numbers to valuations are inherently speculative.

                I'm not a political philosopher interested in making an argument defending the virtues of anarchic market economics, so I doubt there's much more discussion to be had between us on this subject.

                2 votes
                1. [4]
                  Comment deleted by author
                  Link Parent
                  1. [3]
                    wervenyt
                    Link Parent
                    What half of your argument did I leave on the table? That is insisting your political perspective is the only valid one.

                    What half of your argument did I leave on the table?

                    "anarchic market" is a contradiction in terms

                    That is insisting your political perspective is the only valid one.

                    2 votes
                    1. [2]
                      Seven
                      Link Parent
                      I will not engage with someone who is arguing in such bad faith as to quote only half of what I say in order to spin it in their favor. I'm sorry if I came across as shutting down your arguments...

                      I will not engage with someone who is arguing in such bad faith as to quote only half of what I say in order to spin it in their favor. I'm sorry if I came across as shutting down your arguments without considering them; I hope we can have more productive conversations in the future.

                      1 vote
                      1. wervenyt
                        Link Parent
                        Now that you've deleted the comment, I can't be sure, but I quoted that half of a sentence because the first half was just implying that, because you identify as an anarchist, you're correct. I...

                        Now that you've deleted the comment, I can't be sure, but I quoted that half of a sentence because the first half was just implying that, because you identify as an anarchist, you're correct. I would also identify as one, and I didn't feel like pointing out that calling yourself an anarchist doesn't prove your expertise. If that came across as bad faith, I'm sorry, but I'm now the second person in the same thread you've accused of arguing as such.

                        I'd appreciate an answer to my question, though. I don't know what I've missed from your position in formulating my response.

                        3 votes
              2. [2]
                meff
                Link Parent
                I agree that this is a large problem in crypto right now. I think stablecoins on non-PoW chains offer a lot of promise here but that promise has not been realized. Some may say it's because crypto...

                I agree that this is a large problem in crypto right now. I think stablecoins on non-PoW chains offer a lot of promise here but that promise has not been realized. Some may say it's because crypto is "early" and make some silly analogy to the internet, but I'm not going to. I think it's a genuine growing risk in crypto right now that the lack of non-digital non-speculative usecases risks having the general population lose confidence in crypto as a whole, and when it comes to value confidence is everything.

                That said, I feel that you're moving the goalposts to find something to criticize about crypto here and I don't think that's a fruitful way to move a discussion forward.

                1 vote
                1. Seven
                  Link Parent
                  I am not moving the goalposts, I was just repeating my statement that was in my original comment that any cryptocurrency will be speculative by its very nature. Am I not allowed to repeat parts of...

                  I am not moving the goalposts, I was just repeating my statement that was in my original comment that any cryptocurrency will be speculative by its very nature. Am I not allowed to repeat parts of my original argument if only one of my points is addressed? It seems like you're interpreting my arguments in bad faith here.

                  1 vote
          2. [3]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            Speculative “by its very nature” is over-broad. It implies that cryptocurrency is unfixable. A feasible but unlikely way that it could be fixed would be if the US government took over Tether or...

            Speculative “by its very nature” is over-broad. It implies that cryptocurrency is unfixable.

            A feasible but unlikely way that it could be fixed would be if the US government took over Tether or another dollar-pegged stablecoin. Then exchanging Tether for dollars would be guaranteed and it would be as good as any other money.

            That would probably be a bad idea from the government’s point of view since it enables money laundering, but it shows that stability depends on the details of how today’s cryptocurrency works.

            It would be slightly more politically feasible to back a stablecoin in the same way as any money market fund, not that they’re going to legalize that either.

            1. [2]
              meff
              Link Parent
              On the contrary, it could be a good way to enforce KYC/AML. The government can put the onus of anyone who uses the government backed stablecoin to produce KYC/AML documentation or receive...

              That would probably be a bad idea from the government’s point of view since it enables money laundering, but it shows that stability depends on the details of how today’s cryptocurrency works.

              On the contrary, it could be a good way to enforce KYC/AML. The government can put the onus of anyone who uses the government backed stablecoin to produce KYC/AML documentation or receive escalating fines. A sort-of fine-first ask questions later approach. Or at least, I can imagine a scenario where this is a thing. Whether that's viable is another question.

              1. skybrian
                Link Parent
                Yes, I believe the issuers for some stablecoins like USDC already do this for people buying or selling them using their bank account. That identifies some holders of stablecoins, but once the...

                Yes, I believe the issuers for some stablecoins like USDC already do this for people buying or selling them using their bank account. That identifies some holders of stablecoins, but once the money is out there, further transactions can happen and it’s harder to know who the other parties are. So it’s still enabling anonymous Internet transactions to some extent and this is probably part of the reason why most governments aren’t exactly rushing to legalize this.

                But on the other side anonymity depends on having good opsec which is probably easier said than done.

                1 vote
    2. [5]
      NoblePath
      Link Parent
      This sums my opinion on it, mostly. There's a couple of caveats. First, the technology is quite interesting, and for that reason alone deserves attention, as nerdist objet d'art if nothing else....

      This sums my opinion on it, mostly.

      There's a couple of caveats.

      First, the technology is quite interesting, and for that reason alone deserves attention, as nerdist objet d'art if nothing else.

      Second, I think the technology probably is socially useful, we just haven't quite discerned how.

      It fails as a currency, because a currency needs organized backing and widespread unity. Dollars have this, even if the backing coerces the unity to some degree, no crypto really has that outside its own self-defined sphere.

      It fails as a contract vehicle, or at least adds nothing new expect perhaps a novel way of signing a contract. If anything, it complicates things because jurisdiction for disputes is poorly defined. A smart "contract" may "execute" with "flawless" "precision," but the meaning of the terms are always capable of misunderstanding and even shfiting meaning. Legally, a contract is a "meeting of the minds," not a piece of paper or even a collection of terms and conditions, rights and obligations.

      The thing that troubles me the most, and others have stated this differently elsewhere in the thread, is that a huge amount of effort is involved in it's operation is completely wasted by design. It's not wasted in the sense that it is a mechanism for fairness, but it uses so many resources that produce nothing but a framework to support a process that, as we've said, has little real value for society at large (yet). The proof or stake paradigm may solve this issue somewhat, but color me skeptical.

      3 votes
      1. skyfaller
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I'm not convinced that proof-of-stake actually works: https://yanmaani.github.io/proof-of-stake-is-a-scam-and-the-people-promoting-it-are-scammers/ Proof-of-work is an unconscionable waste of...

        I'm not convinced that proof-of-stake actually works: https://yanmaani.github.io/proof-of-stake-is-a-scam-and-the-people-promoting-it-are-scammers/

        Proof-of-work is an unconscionable waste of energy and hardware in a climate crisis, but you should be skeptical of people who claim that proof-of-stake will fix that.

        Even if proof-of-stake does work, it really amounts to the golden rule, "he who has the gold makes the rules". PoW and all of its alternatives will make the rich richer because they give inherent advantages to anyone who already has existing resources: https://scribe.rip/everestpipkin/but-the-environmental-issues-with-cryptoart-1128ef72e6a3

        Inequality itself is a major driver of the climate crisis, and cryptocurrency will only entrench and accelerate that inequality:

        8 votes
      2. [3]
        Fiachra
        Link Parent
        This gets to the core of it for me personally. Once we find a genuine problem in the world that blockchain technology solves, then we'll hand them the appropriate amount of kudos. Until then, the...

        I think the technology probably is socially useful, we just haven't quite discerned how.

        This gets to the core of it for me personally. Once we find a genuine problem in the world that blockchain technology solves, then we'll hand them the appropriate amount of kudos. Until then, the level of hype and evangelism around it are just unwarranted, and honestly just seem like the result of overaggressive marketing.

        Even though I find NFTs particularly annoying because their aim is to create artificial scarcity, a thing nobody wants, I concede it is at least possible that there is an application where that might actually benefit the world in some way. But until there is, I will continue to find their popularity... cringey.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          Crespyl
          Link Parent
          The only way I see NFTs actually being useful/relevant is if/when someone attaches them to some real service/product, not just links to jpegs. Imagine a ticketing system based on an NFT model; you...

          The only way I see NFTs actually being useful/relevant is if/when someone attaches them to some real service/product, not just links to jpegs.

          Imagine a ticketing system based on an NFT model; you have a genuinely scarce resource (seats at a specific showing of some movie/band/event), issued by some originating authority (the venue) that is obligated to provide access to the seats in exchange for the tokens. An NFT approach would let you construct a smart contract system that allows arbitrary reselling/trading of tickets in a way that guarantees the venue/band/whoever still gets some percentage cut of the secondary market, while still ensuring that the buyer knows they are getting a genuine ticket, all directly peer-to-peer with no TicketMaster/trusted-third-party in the way.

          The closest I've seen to this so far is just people talking about microtransactions for digital items/perks in online games, which is at least an improvement over jpg links, but still has most of the problems of existing microtransaction-oriented business models. If we end up in an open metaverse world where I can actually port NFT game objects from one platform to another, maybe this gets more interesting.

          Until then, I'm pretty down on any NFT scheme that doesn't connect back to some real-world service.

          5 votes
          1. meff
            Link Parent
            I personally find art NFTs to be asinine. Perhaps some folks can be convinced that there's value in purely digital art that has on-chain attribution, but I find any development in this space to...

            I personally find art NFTs to be asinine. Perhaps some folks can be convinced that there's value in purely digital art that has on-chain attribution, but I find any development in this space to largely be a waste of time. I also feel that the true potential of NFTs is just to map to real-life scarce assets, like tickets.

            1 vote
  3. corleone
    Link
    A good summary of the reasons why some people criticize NFTs.

    A good summary of the reasons why some people criticize NFTs.

    9 votes
  4. Moonchild
    Link
    This seems especially relevant.

    This seems especially relevant.

    9 votes