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Blockchain Is Dangerous Nonsense

Blockchain Is Dangerous Nonsense

These addons are quite adorable!
I’ve been concerned about the excesses of the blockchain industry and their spread into all parts of society for some time now. Here I’ve summarized my thoughts regarding the subject.

I think this article image speaks for itself. 1

Blockchain as a technology is already deeply flawed in its basic concept. This has been explained by a multitude of people, e.g. by the renowned security expert and cryptographer Bruce Schneier 2. So here I’ll only summarize the problems of the technology.

Blockchain tech promises to eliminate trust in central institutions. Initially this was applied to a so-called “currency” (de facto it’s a speculative commodity, not a currency): Bitcoin. Instead of entrusting centralized banks with managing numbers on accounts, Bitcoin uses a decentralized blockchain ledger for that purpose.

The idea to get rid of having to trust centralized organizations might sound tempting, but it doesn’t work: Blockchains don’t get rid of “trust”, they just change, who has to be trusted.

More precisely: The trust in institutions controlled by humans and bound by established laws and rules is instead replaced — by unconditional trust in the infallibility of code (“in code we trust” is a popular phrase in the scene). As code is written by humans, it’s seldom actually infallible.

But even if all code was without mistakes, blockchains can’t do anything against threats like scams, fraud, hacking of devices with keys for the blockchain or just plain old typos in a coin transfer.

Normally, cases of fraud or mistakes could be rectified or reverted by the bank or similar institutions after a review of the situation by humans. However, in the world of blockchain, there is no human supervisory authority. It is independent from banks, states and laws — which is precisely the main selling point of the whole technology.

This is proven by numerous examples from the blockchain world that feature scams, cases of fraud, hacks and plain mistakes that caused enormous damage with the victims and even the developers being entirely powerless. 3 4 5 6 7

The technology has even more problems. The absolutely perverted energy usage in times of climate change is only one of those (this is mainly caused by proof-of-work, still used by all relevant public blockchains, and general inefficiency). 8

(By the way: some of the advantages promised by blockchains, but without the nonsense, is implemented by Merkle trees 9. They already exist since 1979 and blockchains build on their technology. But please don’t also start trying to use Merkle trees for stuff it’s not useful for.)

Do you need a public blockchain? The answer is almost certainly no. A blockchain probably doesn’t solve the security problems you think it solves. The security problems it solves are probably not the ones you have.

~ Bruce Schneier 10

Sadly, it gets even worse. The main objective of blockchain is to decentralize trust and consent (even that it doesn’t do well, as explained). That doesn’t stop many people from pitching blockchain as innovative miracle solution for problems for which that’s just plain and simple nonsense.

A recent example for this insanity from here in Germany is the development of the digital vaccination certificate in early 2021. In the beginning, it was planned to use blockchain technology. In this specific case they wanted to use not only one, but five. Why? Nobody knew exactly and after massive criticism from the public the plan was dropped and replaced by a simpler architecture without blockchains, that’s still in use now. 11

Another even more recent example that regrettably hasn’t been cancelled yet is the digital report card in North Rhine-Westphalia. 12 The concept is already complete hogwash (the problem at hand is solved since decades and nobody needs a complex, inefficient and expensive blockchain for that) and very quickly after going public the project was exposed as utterly insecure, despite “security by blockchain”. 13 14

These are but two of countless projects which had blockchain tech bolted onto them without any regard for common sense. Neither I nor anybody I know has ever heard of any usage of blockchain that’s in any way useful. Blockchain is a “solution” in desperate and so far unsuccessful search for a problem to solve.

But why is blockchain spreading in such a staggering speed if it’s so useless? To understand the reasons for that we have to take a look at the original and still dominating use of the technology: cryptocurrencies and newer spin-offs of that, such as NFTs, DAOs and web3.

These things are useless nonsense that exists to squeeze money en masse out of people who don’t know better. Nevertheless, a massive industry has sprung up around them. This industry burns unbelievable amounts of energy, money and human work time without contributing or producing anything of value for humanity. Except for a few profiteers, of course. 15 16 17 18

From this industry stem the increasingly frequent attempts to export its core technology, the blockchain, into other sectors of life. Blockchain is being pushed into everywhere in society. This forced spread is supposed to give the blockchain industry a reason to exist apart from being a financial bubble, to give it a shine of respectability and trustworthiness and therefore pull more people into the crypto market. 19

This market is in dire need of these people and their money. It’s a pretty obvious and enormous speculative bubble — there are absolutely no real values in the whole market and it doesn’t produce any value by itself. To prevent the bubble from bursting, or to at least slow it down, and to not let the profits dry up, real money and real economy has to be pumped into the crypto market. 20

This money has to be found somewhere else. Not in the blockchain world, in the real world. And so blockchain is shilled in every last place as “modern”, “disruptive”, “innovative”, “secure” and so on. In reality, it is none of those things, as I explained. Blinded by the shine of the enormous revenues of the crypto bubble, a lot of companies and government organizations look over that. Everybody wants a piece of the tasty blockchain cake and tries to shove a little blockchain into something, anything.

Originally stoked by the blockchain industry lobby and propped up by the shine of its unbelievable profits, a enormous hype has formed. This has long since taken on a life of its own, it’s no longer just the blockchain industry that’s shilling this technology everywhere.

The spread of blockchain technology is not just infuriating nonsense, it is actively harmful and dangerous. For these reasons, we have to work against the hype by publicly exposing the absurdity of the technology and how the blockchain industry is promoting it in order to increase their profits. For the future of technology, computer science and to protect people from the predatory crypto market. I hope this article furthers this cause a little bit.

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Exhibit HN: Blockchain Spark – Decode fine contract reveal into DataFrame

Exhibit HN: Blockchain Spark – Decode fine contract reveal into DataFrame

Blockchain Spark lets you decode smart contract activity into DataFrame. Example notebook using the decoded blockchain data: OpenSea Trading Metrics. Using this Repo Building We use Maven for building Java UDFs used by blockchain-spark. To compile, run tests, and build jars: Install blockchain-spark: Running To run a spark-shell with blockchain-spark and its dependencies on the…

Intel blockchain accelerator roadmap of 1000x more energy-efficient

Intel blockchain accelerator roadmap of 1000x more energy-efficient

Digital computing continues to enrich our lives in more ways than we can imagine. We acquire, consume, and create content and services with a few clicks or taps of our fingertips. Exponential increases in compute performance, enabled by Moore’s Law, play a significant role in making these experiences seamless. Moore’s Law is also enabling us…

The Stacks 2.0 blockchain implementation in Rust

The Stacks 2.0 blockchain implementation in Rust

Reference implementation of the Stacks blockchain in Rust. Stacks 2.0 is a layer-1 blockchain that connects to Bitcoin for security and enables decentralized apps and predictable smart contracts. Stacks 2.0 implements Proof of Transfer (PoX) mining that anchors to Bitcoin security. Leader election happens at the Bitcoin blockchain and Stacks (STX) miners write new blocks…

The Truth on the Blockchain

The Truth on the Blockchain

This is an english translation of my post entitled “La vérité sur la blockchain”.

For a few years now, blockchains have been so hyped that they have been put to all sorts of uses. Blockchain-based projects are multiplying without any consideration for the actual necessity of a blockchain for these projects. It seems that this is entirely due to a fashion effect (itself the result of a blinded technological solutionism ideology), and to the subsequently available fundings…

Mostly, these projects consist in recording information on a blockchain and claiming that doing so provides some form of guarantees. For example, we regularly see projects that aim at putting traceability, notarized deeds, or even diplomas in a blockchain, claiming that doing so will ensure the security and the validity of these information while allowing disintermediation.

It is important to understand that the goal of a blockchain is to achieve distributed consensus[1]. That is, to allow a set of autonomous systems to agree on a common information, 1- without the need for any centralized authority, and 2- in an adversarial context (nobody trusts anyone). When this specific need is not a requirement, there is no need for a blockchain.

This said, it is already quite obvious that many blockchain-based projects do not make any sense, starting with all those which are built around a permissioned or a centraly controlled blockchain, but also all those which aim at bypassing the need for a central authority even though this third-party is intrinsically necessary.

Let’s take the example of diplomas. An official dipoma is necessarily delivered by some state-authorized higher education institution, typically a univesity. Recording diplomas on a blockchain thus makes no sense since only the institution which delivered a given diploma can certify it’s authenticity. This means that there is a central authority that is essential for the certification of the diploma, without any regard for how the diploma exists, whether it is as a piece of cardboard paper or in a digital form. Therefore, there is no need for a blockchain, and actually it happens that using one is counter-productive. If digital certification of diplomas is useful, it is possible to do so more effectively and less expensively without a blockchain (and we know perfectly how to implement it: this is how we manage TLS certificates, which are used for secure HTTP connections, for example).

The thing is, the problem with blockchain-based projects is actually more profound. What many people do not seem to understand (or do not want to), is that, as a rule, what is recorded on a blockchain has no truth value in the real-world, if it is not enforced by an external authority. In the exact same way that a contract written on a sheet of paper only has a meaning and value as long as all parties agree to it, or as long as there is a third-party that has the ability to coerce recalcitrant parties to honor the contract.

The only truth that is guaranteed by the recording of a given information on a given blockchain, is that this particular information is written on this particular blockchain.

Thus, writing an information on a blockchain is only interesting if it is the writing itself that defines the truth. That is to say that it is a performative writing. It is the case with cryptocurrencies, where the balance of a given wallet[2] is computed from the transactions written on that cryptocurrencies’ blockchain, i.e., where the truth (for a very local notion of truth that only exists “inside” the said blockchain) is defined by what is written.

We must not confuse what we write because we have has decided (otherwise) that it is true, and what is true because it is written.

Apart from cryptocurrencies, I have never seen any other example of justified[3] use of a blockchain. For good reasons: we just demonstrated that as soon as what is recorded on a blockchain concerns something that is external to this blockchain, then the use of a blockchain adds strictly no more guarantee than writing on a sheet of paper. Therefore, in such situations, blockchains can only be a replacement for paper and for paper only (a replacement that is less practical, less efficient, more expensive, more polluting, less respectful of privacy, etc.). Hence, all the institutions and authorities that exist and are necessary to give any meaning and value to the sheet of paper are still necessary. By using a blockchain, one pays the cost of decentralization in a trustless environement, without having decentralized anything at all nor eliminated any need for trust.

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Blockchain is not only crappy technology but a bad vision for the future

Blockchain is not only crappy technology but a bad vision for the future

Blockchain is not only crappy technology but a bad vision for the future. Its failure to achieve adoption to date is because systems built on trust, norms, and institutions inherently function better than the type of no-need-for-trusted-parties systems blockchain envisions. That’s permanent: no matter how much blockchain improves it is still headed in the wrong…

It’s not still the early days of blockchain

It’s not still the early days of blockchain

by Molly White on

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When I speak about the inefficiency of popular blockchains, or mention that we seem to be hurtling towards a “web3” so centralized it challenges big tech’s firm grasp on today’s web, or point out that somehow no one appears to have managed to find a positive use for blockchains that wouldn’t be better served by one of the many more performant databases we have available to us these days, I often hear “it’s the early days”. “Give it a chance”. “People are still figuring all this blockchain stuff out, ironing out the kinks”.

Bitcoin, currently one of the best-known and most-used blockchains, began to be used in 2009. Ethereum, another well-known and popular blockchain, launched in 2015. In the grand scheme of things, 2009 and 2015 were not that long ago. In the technology world, that was a lifetime ago.

In 2009, smartphones without physical keyboards were starting to become more popular. We still aggregated our favorite blogs to read on Google Reader, but people had started posting their thoughts on this weird new website called “Twitter”. VentureBeat had just published an article urging people not to “believe the hype” around fully-electric cars, writing that Tesla was “floundering” after recently bringing in Elon Musk as CEO. Uber was founded, and people started to talk more widely about this “gig economy” idea. Intel Core processors had just been released, starting with the i3 and i5. Consumer-grade desktop computers usually had 4 or 8GB of RAM. In the software world more specifically, Go was publicly announced, though not yet popular. MongoDB and Redis were brand new players in databases. jQuery was just taking off, about to reach near-ubiquity over the coming years. Node.js was first released. Windows 7 was the hot new thing, after the horror that was Windows Vista.

In 2015, we saw the release of Windows 10, and with it, Microsoft Edge replaced Internet Explorer. Discord and Apple Music sprung into being. Companies had just started to become more interested in virtual reality. The first Apple Watch came out. People began tapping their phones to pay for things, as Apple Pay began to be accepted some places. Those phones all still had headphone jacks. In software, machine learning was the hot buzzword (though hardly a new idea), and the initial open-source version of TensorFlow was released. ES6 was released, much to the delight of (most of) us JavaScripters, and TypeScript had also recently entered the fray. React was becoming more widely-used, and starting to supplant Angular.

All that to say, a lot has changed in the technology world in the past six to twelve years. One only needs to look at Moore’s law to see how this is pretty much built in to the technology world, as once-impossible ideas are rapidly made possible by exponentially more processing power. And yet, we are to believe that as technology soared forward over the past decade, blockchain technologies spent that time tripping over their own feet?

“Blockchains have been around for a while,” some will say, “but so many web3 concepts are brand new!” Bullshit, I say to that. Cryptocurrency exchanges have been around for ages—the infamous Mt. Gox launched in 2010. Stablecoins have been around since 2014. One of the first well-known DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) was created in 2016. Smart contracts became popular in 2017, and along with them came decentralized finance platforms. NFTs were one of the more recent creations—2018—and a truly stunning example of how this space is apparently only getting worse the more people try to innovate in it. And in 2018, guess what Neha Narula and Alexis Ohanian were saying about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies? “It’s early days”.

So this raises the question: How long can it possibly be “early days”? How long do we need to wait before someone comes up with an actual application of blockchain technologies that isn’t a transparent attempt to retroactively justify a technology that is inefficient in every sense of the word? How much pollution must we justify pumping into our atmosphere while we wait to get out of the “early days” of proof-of-work blockchains? How many people must be scammed for all they’re worth while technologists talk about just beginning to think about building safeguards into their platforms? How long must the laymen, who are so eagerly hustled into blockchain-based projects that promise to make them millionaires, be scolded as though it is their fault when they are scammed as if they should be capable of auditing smart contracts themselves?

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

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An NFT without a blockchain

An NFT without a blockchain

This is a small proof-of-concept. It relies on PGP – but you could use Keybase, GPG, or any other hard-to-use encryption program.BackgroundSuppose you want to support an artist and give them money. That’s easy. Most artists take PayPal, bank transfer, or cash. But how can you prove that you’ve paid an artist for a specific…

USPS Tested a Blockchain Voting System Before 2020, It Didn’t Work

USPS Tested a Blockchain Voting System Before 2020, It Didn’t Work

Image for article titled USPS Secretly Tested a Blockchain Voting System Before 2020, It Didn’t Work

Image: David McNew (Getty Images)

If you’ve ever found it strange that modern society managed to figure out how to use the internet to facilitate the sale of millions of dollars worth of GIFs but still can’t seem to implement secure online voting, then you’re not alone. The United States Postal Service, which isn’t normally known for its future-forward approach to technology, reportedly tried to pursue a blockchain-based mobile voting system prior to the 2020 election according to The Washington Post.

Though specific details around the now-defunct project are scarce, the USPS provided a basic vision of what a blockchain-based voting system could look like in this August 2020 patent. If implemented, the voting would have occurred anonymously via a mobile app with each vote recorded in multiple digital locations at the same time.

In a statement to Gizmodo, A USPS spokesperson said the system the patent was based on was “exploratory” in nature and was abandoned in 2019. “Blockchain technology’s potential to strengthen digital transaction security is a concept we have explored on our journey to better meet our customers’ current and future needs, and to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds,” the spokesperson said. “But we don’t have plans to advance this system.”

USPS’s idea reportedly diverged from other U.S. federal agencies who were also working on election security measures following the fallout of the 2016 election, though they were focused mostly on tried and true paper ballots. The system didn’t make it far though after researchers from the University of Colorado at Colorado Spring reportedly found numerous potential vulnerabilities when they used it during a mock election.

Not mincing words, one of those researchers told the Post they believed the blockchain system actually caused more problems than it solved.

Election security experts have for years warned against the impulse to implement internet-based voting systems for fears they could pose a vector for malicious attacks, or potentially decrease trust and transparency around the election system. That last concern rings especially true when millions of U.S. voters say they don’t believe the results of the 2020 presidential election.

According to a January Morning Consult survey, less than 35% of GOP voters said they trusted U.S. elections. Part of this distrust was likely amplified by the pandemic-induced rise in mail-in votes. A sharper pivot to online voting risks heightening distrust even further. Other groups still, like NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice have expressed concerns that funds for online voting measures would chip away at those needed to bolster field-tested voting systems.

“The Brennan Center has recommended that Congress allocate $4 billion to help state and local governments implement the necessary upgrades just to protect voters from both the coronavirus and cyberattacks this year,” Lawrence Norden, The Brennan Center’s Director of the Election Reform Program said. “That’s where all available resources need to go.”

This isn’t entirely uncharted territory in practice. Alaska, Washington DC, and the Department of Defense have all tested out limited pilot versions of remote voting systems in the past but abandoned those after experts cited potential security lapses. Meanwhile, last year The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, FBI, and several other federal agencies released an assessment citing high risk associated with online or mobile voting technologies.

“Securing the return of voted ballots via the internet while ensuring ballot integrity and maintaining voter privacy is difficult, if not impossible, at this time,” the agencies determined. “If election officials choose or are mandated by state law to employ this high-risk process, its use should be limited to voters who have no other means to return their ballot and have it counted.”

All these concerns haven’t stopped some states from trying their hand at online voting nonetheless. During the pandemic, mobile voting systems were used in limited cases in West Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey, however, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found multiple vulnerabilities in the systems and claimed they posed “

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“Is blockchain the future of the music industry?”-By:Tony

image credit: Medium

A lot has been said about the Blockchain technology since it was first defined by mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto less than ten years ago. It has evolved since then and now seems to be finding its first real applications. In one of my articles on the latest law jobs site, I defined blockchain as “A shared, trusted, public ledger that everyone can inspect but which no single user controls”. Before we delve into the meat and bones of the article, I would like to point out that cryptocurrency is already a massive gamechanger for businesses operating across multiple industries. For example, Peaches and Screams, one of the largest lingerie brands in the UK worth over £70 million was the first online retailer in the UK to embrace cryptocurrencies whilst one of the biggest vape shops in the UK called The Eliquid Boutique was the first vape shop to accept bitcoin and later over 100 alternative coins.

As you can see, cryptocurrencies are permeating all industries and now it has really taken a bite into the music industry.
Simply put, the idea is to build a new kind of Internet, eliminating intermediaries that suck out value from every exchange in return for providing guarantees to both parties. As you might know, that’s what companies like Visa do everytime you make a payment with your credit card. In the Blockchain, every transaction is recorded, forming a chain from the very first exchange to the most recent one, thus providing amazing transparency to all actors using the technology.

How music industry is effected in 30 years!

Now, let’s consider the music industry: millions of everyday transactions, on thousands of online platforms, with an endless number of intermediaries charging right owners for royalties management and collection. Often, artists don’t know precisely how much each intermediary earns thanks to their music, especially when it comes to online sales and streaming.

That is the problem that Phil Barry, musician, and Cambridge alumni, is trying to tackle; he’s been doing so by collaborating on the elaboration of different products, including the platform Ujo Music. As he faced in the past the problems he’s trying to solve now, we had a talk with him about his vision on an industry that him and many others are trying hard to disrupt.
It’s the people facing the flaws of the music industry who are innovating – and that’s refreshing
Phil Barry is not a music business rookie. He spent eight years as a recording artist and ended up running his own label during half of that time. Even if he was recognized for the quality of his music, he kept mixed feelings about his experience and that is mostly because of an old-fashioned industry, not willing to focus on the two most important actors: the listener and the artist. “I have to say that I had become extremely frustrated by the music industry’s failure to adapt to new technologies, not delivering value to creative people depending on the size of their audience”, Barry says. “That issue comes back no matter what type of structure you get to work with: the licensing system is the core problem.”
Involved in the innovative release of Thom Yorke’s, “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes”, through Bittorent in September 2014, Barry started to show more interest in upcoming technologies that could have an influence on our current economic system. But it’s mostly after reading an article by D.A Wallach that he started working on a collaborative project, gathering creatives of different horizons with one idea: making the music industry fair again. A few months later, a prototype called “UJO Music” was introduced to the public in association with grammy-award winner Imogen Heap.

The licensing system is the core problem.
And that’s is when the story gets really interesting: a former indie musician, a prize-winning artist and software developers got together and demonstrated that the music industry could work differently. “It was kind of a meeting of minds: we got the same idea at the same time”, Barry explains. During his partnership with Heap, Barry “felt that there was an overlap between what [they] were trying to achieve and her vision as an artist towards a fair and renewed music industry.”

The idea of Ujo was simple but awesome:

an open-sourced platform for artists and rights owners to sell their creations, enabling them to design and add their own services on top of the main infrastructure. Every transaction being recorded in the Blockchain, royalties are redistributed real-time in relation to the smart contract, a program automating the whole process.
The main challenge of Blockchain: drawbacks of a crypto-currency based technology

My first thought after discovering about the possibilities offered to the music industry by Blockchain was: how can you bring clarity and fairness to artists when your technology relies on crypto-currency, know for its sudden shifts in value? And who, except for experienced techies, is willing to pay with Bitcoin or Ether to buy an album?
It’s not that I don’t believe in crypto-currencies, but it’s not what attracts me in the technology.”, Phil Barry told me straight away. “We have to make it possible, at least in the short run, for people to engage with physical currency”. The idea here is not to get into a war with the current monetary system, but to bring back compensation to the people who are creating value. And Barry is straightforward about his skeptic he can be towards cryptocurrencies.

“Many people think that crypto-currencies can replace ‘normal’ money: I disagree. At least, not for now. The value of these currencies is increasing over time instead of decreasing, as there is only a limited amount of it: what would happen if the whole world started to use Bitcoin?” If you would like to learn more about cryptocurrencies, I recommend this

cryptocurrency blog .

Crypto-currencies is not what attracts me in the technology.

What if the industry itself was willing to embrace change?

Technology lately has had a huge influence on the business of making, recording and distributing music. Since the 2000’s, the industry sales shredded by half and all major labels completely reorganized themselves in a survival effort, all that because of P2P downloading. Tech companies earnt a great part of the cake by providing solutions that historical actors didn’t want to see emerging: digital sales and streaming. That recent disruption is the reason why labels and right holders won’t try to “put the technology back in the bottle again” P. Barry underlines. The practice of consumption and distribution of music has already changed so much; industry players would rather take advantage of Blockchain than denying an upcoming market trend again.

But the industry’s one and biggest concern might be what makes the core of Blockchain: transparency. Indeed, with data value going up the roof and the habit of joining confidentiality clauses to every royalty contract signed by an artist, it seems unlikely for music companies to go public about their business anytime soon. Unless if Blockchain’s praised efficiency turns out to save them enough money; especially what’s spent on performing rights management. In average, that represents 12.7% of total royalties.

Enough to let contracts privacy go?

About Author:

Tony is a legal recruitment specialist at . In his spare time, he enjoys composing synthwave music, spending quality time with this wife Binky and their cute pug called Shmoggy. Tony enjoys regular country walks, wine tasting, clay pigeon shooting, jogging around London and is a massive fan of the Big Bang Theory.