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Half of ICOs Die Within Four Months After Token Sales Finalized (bloomberg.com)
466 points by chollida1 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 418 comments



You can see the state (volume, # daily users) of some of these promised "dapps" here: https://dappradar.com . It is indeed a barren wasteland. And when a new popular ICO comes along, the Ethereum network struggles and fees skyrocket.

It's weird because people compare it to the early days of the Internet... but the early Internet was useful from its beginning: you could at least send messages and files across the network, which was incredibly useful to academia and the military and was orders of magnitude more efficient than any alternative.

Now, all we see is rampant fraud and a complete disregard for the environment [0] with no gain in efficiency. It's high time we hold "crypto-anarchists" accountable for these issues.

[0] The Ethereum network consumes more electricity than Iceland https://digiconomist.net/ethereum-energy-consumption


>>It's weird because people compare it to the early days of the Internet... but the early Internet was useful from its beginning

Exactly why so much wealth was created by the Internet boom. The wealth came from utility that already existed, just needed to be harnessed to its fullest potential. ICO scams are based on generating wealth first and hoping that utility follows at some undetermined time in the future.

It's all snake oil. Maybe snake oil can be useful to someone at some point in time, but until then it's still just a scam.


I ran a 13TH mine of KNC Neptunes and Jupiters in 2014. I failed up from a deal where I designed boards for Avalon ASICs, set up the production pipeline, then the chips got stolen by the Chinese government (as far as I can tell), and my chip broker paid me back in BTC when it was at about $12. Then it shot up... $200... $300... I REALLY wanted to run a mine and I got in through a friend early on the Neptunes. They were late and gave us a bunch of Jupiters they had already mined to death. Eventually our Neptunes showed up. I got the office in my little rental house wired up with some 220 breakers and turned my tiny house into a space heater. I had to insulate the windows in this front office that got the August setting sun. I literally had to let my neighbors in for a tour so they knew I wasn't growing weed. They were not really convinced I wasn't doing anything illegal. When the sun hit, I had to put misters on my 2TON window AC unit so the room wouldn't heat soak. That was in addition to the 2TON that already fed the house.

I couldn't get people to sign mine share contracts with me to support the operating costs, I ended up spending most of it on my power bill, food, and my therapist (that sounds like it's a joke, but it's not). At the time my tiny run-of-the-mill software consultancy barely kept it's head above water. This thing actually put me deeply in the red. Texas summers. heh.

All the people I offered those mine shares to have called me this year thinking I was on to something! I wasn't on to something, I lucked into a situation and did something with computers that I liked. I didn't hold shit. I regret nothing. After the 2014 crash, everyone was saying "I told you so!" and I had some bills to pay. Jokes on them, I had a blast.

I really love what blockchain can do for consensus. I love that ETH can be used for address resolution outside of DNS. I love what is happening with IPFS. There is so much growing out of this that is good.

A partner in my mine got me on a call a year and a half ago with a friend of his from Bloomberg. The call was (from my perspective) supposed to be about my AR GIS platform. It turned out the dude was specifically a crypto journalist and had a stake in a Puerto Rico "Crypto Hedge Fund". Whatever that is. To his surprise, I had no opinions on hot coins!

Unlike the internet, the first "killer app" for this was about literally printing money. It's not a fair comparison. The real work that is happening with decentralized systems around this stuff is happening quietly. How many of you are listening to podcasts about DNS? People want to get rich quick. Sharks love to eat people that want that. It's a shame people got shucked.

Last year when people decided to give me calls about it, especially friends and family, my response was "How much do you know about cryptography? How much do you think you understand this stuff? I barely understand it. In my opinion, no one really understands what we are doing or what we are capable of with it. That doesn't make it an investment. Stick your money in an index fund."


Snake oil is actually very useful: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/oils/snake-oil....

My superpower: Taking things literally. Still more useful than the last 10 ICOs. And my bad jokes aren't as bad for the environment. 10k joke-coins pre-ICO and 2 downvotes for that one for me!

We had three innovative ideas in the financial sector - certificate of debt, compounded interest and book money. And now the fourth - trolling idiots to risk their retirement money because they want to get rich "with that computer money my son told me about".


The idea that the topical application of omega-3 fatty acids has some benefit other than psychological is definitely snake oil.


When it comes to health benefits, I'm not likely to click a link to `organicfacts.net` and assume it's backed with scientific evidence.



Can we offer an ICO for tokenized "taking things literally" jokes?


What about an options market for jokes that may be taken literally in the future?

r/memeeconomy but irl, if you will.


> Snake oil is actually very useful

You don't appear to actually understand what the phrase "snake oil" means in English. It doesn't mean "snake oil isn't useful".

It means: during in the 1800s Chinese immigrants to American used snake oil (from the Chinese water snake; the one in your link) as a cure-all. Unscrupulous "snake oil salesmen" would sell what-they-called-snake-oil-but-actually-wasn't. Or it used rattlesnake oil instead of water snake oil.

Here's a 90 second video that says the same thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaDsOJATX3A


I'm pretty sure he knows. Hence "My superpower: Taking things literally."

Incidentally I'm pretty sure water snake oil is not actually a cure-all anymore than rattlesnake oil is.


> It's weird because people compare it to the early days of the Internet... but the early Internet was useful from its beginning

That really depends on where you put 'beginning'. But more to the point, blockchains are useful now, just like the internet was. They're just not useful for all the things that are being promised (yet). Also, just like the internet wasn't.

> Now, all we see is rampant fraud and a complete disregard for the environment [0] with no gain in efficiency.

People never tire of pointing this out. Yet it completely ignores the fact that there are solutions to this problem that are in the works, and have been planned for a long time.

There are lots of problems with the crypto space. Fraud is rampant. Energy consumption is wasteful, temporarily. It's also not clear that dis-intermediating human institutions is actually what we want to do. But if you think it's all a fraud, or that there is no value, then you're just not thinking very hard.


1. What if we put "beginning" as in "before it was even called the Internet"? Indeed, ARPANET, which came online in 1969, saw fast growth in the United States in the 70s. Nodes came online to use it, not to make a quick buck. The government subsidized it because its potential use was obvious. Email started being used in 1972, FTP in 1973. To compare these world-changing technologies that were invented and used merely 5 years after ARPANET came online to CryptoKitties, which is the most useful thing to come out of a decade of work on blockchains, is a joke! And it's barely funny!

2. Of course the effect on the environment will continue to be pointed out: Ethereum's energy consumption is growing and the use cases are nowhere to be seen. So far, "plans" in the cryptocurrency space never go as expected. Satoshi didn't expect persistent forks and altcoins, for example. Vitalik advertised Ethereum as a "world computer" but it can barely stand when only 14k users are trading cartoon kitties on it. He also said Ethereum's "code is law", until he changed his mind and forked the network due to a hack. Please excuse skeptics for holding accountable those that do not have a history of consistent and successful results.


> Nodes came online to use it, not to make a quick buck

Thereby allowing use and feature development to proceed hand in hand. That synergy between makers and users is wholly non-existent in the crytocurrency space, which is primarily focussed on flipping a quick buck.


> What if we put "beginning" as in "before it was even called the Internet"? Indeed, ARPANET, which came online in 1969, saw fast growth in the United States in the 70s. Nodes came online to use it, not to make a quick buck.

People use cryptocurrency too. For value transfer, and to a more limited extent, for dapps like Augur. You seem to be criticizing the delta between the lofty hopes for it and it's actual usage. The early internet did not have such lofty hopes, so its growth was more organic. If you take away the pipe dreams from crypto, you have a remnant skeleton that i'd argue very much resembles the early internet.

> Of course the effect on the environment will continue to be pointed out: Ethereum's energy consumption is growing and the use cases are nowhere to be seen. So far, "plans" in the cryptocurrency space never go as expected. Satoshi didn't expect persistent forks and altcoins, for example. Vitalik advertised Ethereum as a "world computer" but it can barely stand when only 14k users are trading cartoon kitties on it. He also said Ethereum's "code is law", until he changed his mind and forked the network due to a hack. Please excuse skeptics for holding accountable those that do not have a history of consistent and successful results.

So, I said there are plans for solving the energy consumption issue. And your counter-argument is what, exactly? That sometimes people didn't foresee everything that might evolve? Help me understand the argument that you're making here.


> The early internet did not have such lofty hopes, so its growth was more organic.

People forget that in the early days of the Internet and its predecessors, most computers were still bigger than a washing machine, mostly available only to universities and big or specialized corporations, and data lines were limited to bandwidths many orders of magnitudes narrower than today.

The Internet had an inherent hard limit on scale and availability simply by the technology that was available at the time. Not only did the Internet then grow with the available technology, filling it out, its very nature provided a great lever to all research and development, leading to the exponential advancement of information technology that we live in today.

There is no comparison, at all.


> The Internet had an inherent hard limit on scale and availability simply by the technology that was available at the time.

All technology is limited by what is available at the time. I am nowhere near as bullish as I used to be on “blockchain” but I still think it can have a huge impact. If the internet democratized informatiom the blockchain has the potential to democratize finance and some types of information. The internet had all kinds of crazy scammers during the dotcom era. I think there is still potential here and while the shape isn’t super obvious I think it’s not worth betting against. Im no koolaide drinking crypro cargo cultist but I am optimistic it will solve some problems and be a net positive.


> People use cryptocurrency too. For value transfer

What's your evidence for this?

Even major Bitcoin advocates say it's no longer useful as a payment system: https://avc.com/2017/08/store-of-value-vs-payment-system/

Bitcoin's total TPS is circa 2-3. [1] And presumably a small fraction of that is actual money transfer. In contrast, M-Pesa, a digital money system that started about the same time and has millions of users, has 100x that volume and is growing rapidly. [2]

So I'm entirely skeptical that it's better for any significant market than even legacy money transfer methods, let alone trying to compete with newer tech.

[1] https://www.blockchain.com/charts/transactions-per-second

[2] https://www.mobileworldlive.com/money/news-money/m-pesa-reac...


> What's your evidence for this?

I've used it for that. People use it on darknet markets for value transfer. I have seen many people claim to use it in Venezuela, though I can't confirm that (one of them posted in this thread [1]).

> Bitcoin's total TPS is circa 2-3. [1] And presumably a small fraction of that is actual money transfer. In contrast, M-Pesa, a digital money system that started about the same time and has millions of users, has 100x that volume and is growing rapidly. [2]

That's no longer true. The lightning network increases that to effectively infinite TPS. The infrastructure of nodes isn't that great yet, but it is now possible in principle for Bitcoin to scale to an essentially arbitrary throughput.

> So I'm entirely skeptical that it's better for any significant market than even legacy money transfer methods, let alone trying to compete with newer tech.

That's a fair skepticism. Though not due to slowness/throughput, as that problem is solved. And not due to environmental concerns, because that problem will be solved (in Ethereum, not Bitcoin). The legitimate objections to cryptos I see are:

1. It's not clear that decentralization, uncensorability, and irrevocability are really properties that people need. provides a value anyone really need.

2. Deflationary assets are subject to boom/bust cycles that can be toxic to modern economies. Crypto assets tend to be deflationary, and as such may not, over the longer term, serve effectively as global currencies.

I think those two points are the core of any serious objection to crypto. I believe that in the case of #1, the architectural change it would induce in our financial system is worthwhile, and consumers will feel the effects of that rather than the benefits currently stated for crypto. As for #2, it's a legitimate concern, and it may ultimately make them untenable, but we'll just have to see.

[1] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17495476


I appreciate your willingness to at least contemplate that Bitcoin might have flaws, which is better than most Bitcoin advocates.

But you share one of the habits that makes these discussions so frustrating. You substitute marginal examples and handwaves at the future when asked for clear present evidence.

The Lightning network might possibly one day increase capacity to infinite TPS. It doesn't yet, and reasonable people think it never will. E.g.: https://reddragdiva.tumblr.com/post/175418385308/why-the-lig...

I am saying that based on the evidence I find, despite 10 years of enormous free advertising, approximately nobody uses it today for money transfer when compared with other money transfer options. Do you have clear evidence otherwise? Not anecdote, not what it possibly does, but actual evidence?


> You substitute marginal examples and handwaves at the future when asked for clear present evidence.

Such is unfortunately the nature of all predictive discussion. I don't think i'm being any more speculative than anyone discussing say, autonomous cars, or similarly 'somewhere on the horizon' technologies.

> It doesn't yet, and reasonable people think it never will. E.g.: https://reddragdiva.tumblr.com/post/175418385308/why-the-lig....

There's a decent bit going on in that link, but point by point:

> 1. it doesn’t work. the software is absolute dogshit. buggy as hell.

This is just saying the current iteration is buggy. That's no counter-argument to the concept.

> 1.5. it can’t work. the mesh network problem

The difficulty of this problem depends on the number of relevant nodes, and the way you structure the network itself. He even cites a good example - BGP. He claims that BGP works because the nodes trust each other, but regardless of them trusting each other, they solve the mesh network problem. That trust is not integral to the solving of the mesh network problem.

> 2. the whole idea is dumb. nobody wants a network of prepaid channels.

Now this sounds like a decent argument. Except that, one could argue that your bank account and credit card are simply prepaid channels. If the LN gets up to scale, and if it achieves sufficient node liquidity that you can pay essentially anyone...then I don't see how this prepaid channel differs in any way from a traditional bank account.

> 3. the LN solves a problem that doesn’t exist. the idea is to make transactions fast again

The LN may or may not cause merchants to adopt Bitcoin for payments. But it definitely solves the more narrow "Bitcoin doesn't scale" problem.

> 4. the LN is coin-agnostic - so it isn’t an excuse for bitcoin’s unscalability

This doesn't even logically follow. It's just a complete non-sequitur. The LN is an excuse for Bitcoins not scaling yet. The LN can also be used to scale other coins. It may be that people prefer those other coins once they've achieved scale.

> Do you have clear evidence otherwise? Not anecdote, not what it possibly does, but actual evidence?

It's extremely hard to get data for something like that. But the clearest cut case is darknet markets. Cryptocurrencies are definitely actually used there for real commerce.


That is not at all the nature of all predictive discussion. Handwaves suit for a seed round, for example. But when you're looking for an A or a B round, you need significant evidence for your forward-looking statements. Bitcoin is years past the point where it deserves to get away with handwaves.

Also, "people use cryptocurrency for value transfer" is not a forward-looking statement. It's a statement of what people do now. And this comes out of you saying, "blockchains are useful now".


> That is not at all the nature of all predictive discussion. Handwaves suit for a seed round, for example. But when you're looking for an A or a B round, you need significant evidence for your forward-looking statements. Bitcoin is years past the point where it deserves to get away with handwaves.

You're handwaving right now. You can't know which part of the distribution you're in until it's over. I've provided quite a bit of evidence, as well. There are some forward looking statements for which there is no hard evidence, but only because there cannot yet be any.

> Also, "people use cryptocurrency for value transfer" is not a forward-looking statement. It's a statement of what people do now. And this comes out of you saying, "blockchains are useful now".

They do use it for value transfer right now.


I am definitely not handwaving. I'm saying that the normal evidentiary standards for business evaluation should apply to Bitcoin. It's no longer novel, so the novelty exemption doesn't apply.

> They do use it for value transfer right now.

Money launderers do. KGB agents do. A variety of other criminals do. But I have yet to see evidence that a significant portion of ordinary people use it for value transfer in preference to either traditional means or modern, non-blockchain digital ones.

So yes, you are technically correct on a narrow interpretation of a single sentence. But you are so far wrong in terms of the meaning of that sentence in the broader discussion. For the purposes of evaluating Bitcoin's commercial utility, effectively nobody uses it. If you have data otherwise, let's see it.

The same applies for comparisons with the early Internet. Pre-web, lots of non-technical people used it for practical purposes because it provided superior utility over other options. That doesn't appear to be true for money transfer for Bitcoin. Even prominent Bitcoin advocates have given up on that. E.g.: http://avc.com/2017/08/store-of-value-vs-payment-system/


It's useful for cross-country transfers of money, and in-country if the alternative would be very annoying (or you just happen to have some cryptocurrency around and not regular money). I do use it for that and I've found it useful. The biggest downside in my experience has not been all the abstract figures and numbers and stories floating around, but the exchanges. Turning cryptocurrencies back into regular money is very annoying and the US ones are even very shady (locking your money in, etc). It's what's keeping it inside of the fringes for me.


Turning cryptocurrencies back into regular money is pretty easy and efficient with Kraken.


> People use cryptocurrency too. For value transfer, and to a more limited extent, for dapps like Augur.

Soooo, buying drugs and illegal gambling? Sure, I'll give you that one.

My argument rephrased: "Because cryptocurrency investors have repeatedly made claims that don't pan out, we can be reasonably skeptical and concerned about their energy consumption until they actually fix it or at the very least provide peer-reviewed scientific analysis on how it will be fixed."


> Soooo, buying drugs and illegal gambling? Sure, I'll give you that one.

Yes, although also remittance payments, and some usage in places with unstable currencies like Venezuela. Hard to gauge how much, though.

> My argument rephrased: "Because cryptocurrency investors have repeatedly made claims that don't pan out, we can be reasonably skeptical and concerned about their energy consumption until they actually fix it or at the very least provide peer-reviewed scientific analysis on how it will be fixed."

While that is, in the abstract, a fair argument I don't think there are actually that many examples of it in practice. Vitalik didn't claim Ethereum would be a world computer right away. He's always been clear and explicit about the scaling roadmap. I don't think the promises of the core devs of Ethereum or Bitcoin have been overstated or unmet. If you believe otherwise though, i'd be happy to listen to your argument.


Bitcoin is a solution to unstable currencies in the same way that gasoline is a fire extinguisher. People in Venezuela that want to actually eat are using USD.


they cannot send or receive usd from abroad. they can do it with bitcoin. you get now the value proposition of a global currency that is not government controlled?


If crypto, being "not controlled by a central authority", solves inflation, surely it would already have replaced the default currency in Venezuela by now?

"Authorities have .. permitted trading of bitcoin in Venezuela, though they have heavily fined and detained people who use computers to earn bitcoins by auditing online cryptocurrency transactions. Such “mining” operations use immense amounts of electricity, which is heavily subsidised in Venezuela — meaning the state essentially winds up paying for the process."

"few businesses openly advertise that they accept cryptocurrency out of concern they will be extorted. It’s still difficult to make many purchases in Venezuela with bitcoin"

https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/venezuelans-seeing...


They have a national registry that you need to subscribe to if you are a miner. That and you also need to keep in handy your customs paperwork to prove that you paid entry duties for the equipment. Otherwise you open yourself to police extortion.


does extortion happen regardless? Because the article seems to imply that the miners were mining legally, but where extorted by police anyways


People in Venezuela certainly do send and receive USD from abroad, it is obviously the only way it gets into the country. You can go to a grocery store and buy food with USD. This is what people are actually doing. I suppose you can try to convince the people at your local grocery store to accept cryptocurrencies but good luck with that. And good luck using cryptocurrencies in a country that suffers from frequent blackouts of both electricity and internet.


I'm sorry but I currently live in Venezuela and what you are saying is wrong. Very few places in Caracas or hotels will actually take USD for payment since it is considered illegal unless you go through the regular channels with the idiotic govt exchange rate.

Bitcoin not only thrives here and allows you to bypass the whole craziness with the economy by using exchanges like localbitcoins.com where somebody would deposit the amount of bitcoin you sold to your local bank account. This way you just keep your money in bitcoins if you want. This is specially true with miners.


for sure people that live in Europe cannot deposit good amounts of USD to send through the bank to their relatives there. I know this for a fact. I think you are misinformed.


aris is technically correct. They are not legally allowed to bring a ton of USD into the country (if they're even well enough off to do so). And legally, they have to do so at government-mandated exchange rates (which no one does, because everyone buys/sells on the black market). Surely people are using USD where possible. But likely, they're HODLing their USDs (against the rapidly inflating Bolivares) wherever possible, too.

Meanwhile, no doubt some are using crypto to supplement their incomes/savings as well.


> aris is technically correct.

No,“can” and “are legally allowed to” don't, technically, mean the same thing.


For most Venezuelans, getting access to cash is not a practical reality, even if it's a theoretical one. I went to Venezuela in 2011 and you couldn't even bring $1K USD worth of goods into the country without being taxed to death on it (or paying off some government official). How about cash? Also, I'd rather carry a USB stick with a private key on it than a wad of cash in one of the world's most violent countries (in the middle of an economic depression).


Well the thing is that cash is nowhere to be found so you just go around with your debit card and you are fine.

The other part is that we Venezuelans never walk anywhere. Going somewhere without a car feels dangerous. Oh and in big cities, if the car is armored the better. Plenty of shops now to convert your SUVs.


And how do you buy things with your usb stick?


You buy things via the internet. USB stick (or whatever, paper wallet even) is just cold storage for the private keys of ETH, QTUM, BTC, wallet, etc.


But can't i do the same thing from wherever i am and have it delivered? Or have it mailed as a gift? Even with the situation in Venezuela, Fedex/DHL still ship there.

Furthermore how does that allow you to pay for food, water, utilities, or even fuel for your car?


Do what? Order things with paper money or are you talking about some VISA/MC-backed debit/credit card? Where do you sign up for a USD-based bank account in Venezuela? How do you pass KYC checks? You got a family member or friend who lives in the States you can trust to escrow that for you?

Shipping Fedex/DHL in Venezuela isn't nearly as reliable as shipping in the United States. Nor is it cheap.

Energy and gas are super cheap in Venezuela (38 cents a gallon). I'm not sure where you're going with your argument there.

You can hold crypto as a hedge against the Bolivares, convert to fiat as needed, just like any other fungible asset.


Let’s say I am in Venenzuela and I have some bitcoin. Now what do I do with it? Can I pay my rent with it? Buy food? Of course not. It isn’t solving any problem a USD account isn’t solving. Converting Bitcoin into anything actually usable is the problem.


You can use localbitcoins.com or localethereum.com and somebody will buy your cripto and give you bolivares in your local bank account. That way you save a trip to the US to open an account, which most people can't afford anyway


> Soooo, buying drugs and illegal gambling? Sure, I'll give you that one.

Well, why is this so easy for you to brush aside?

If indeed blockchain tech can successfully subvert bad public policy, isn't that pretty remarkable in its own right?


No it isn't. You could do the same thing with dollars in the mail. All bitcoin does is make it easier to commit shady transactions.


> or at the very least provide peer-reviewed scientific analysis on how it will be fixed

https://eips.ethereum.org/EIPS/eip-1011

There you go. Read it then make your arguments against it. If not, then shut-up.


Being rude like that will get you banned on HN, so please don't do that again, regardless of how right you are or wrong someone else may be.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


So, I said there are plans for solving the energy consumption issue. And your counter-argument is what, exactly?

"I'll believe it when I see it"


No, no, no. You'll see it when you believe it. It's a new paradigm.


Yet Vitalik also noted that Ethereum is not yet production ready. The roadmap is clear from the start. Proof of Stake and Sharding is in the plans. PoS has release version 0.1. Imo, the most significant work so far is proving that Smart Contracts do work, people are abusing it, but nevertheless, it works as designed.

> He also said Ethereum's "code is law", until he changed his mind and forked the network due to a hack.

It is ultimately a decision of the miners. They have the power to choose to upgrade or not. As for the decision to fork, it was done via voting. The decision was for the interest of the Ethereum project's success. Being a maximalist and losing sight of the goals is not desirable. But as a miner, you have the choice to not upgrade the Ethereum client you are using. And those who did not now became 'Etherem Classic'. Sure everyone should be a skeptic and hold accountable, but not to the degree of being unreasonable. One should understand why they desired to fork before making conclusions.


The decision is mostly in the users, i.e. those actually transacting with the currency. It is up to them which set of rules they wish to use when determining if a transaction has been fufilled. Miners are necessary and have some power to disrupt a smaller fork, but they only profit if they are on a chain which people are actually participating in.


I agree. It's the users that pay up for gas.


I would definitely argue that blockchain is closer to the arpanet days than it is to the world wide web days.

This stuff is so early. A lot of the really enabling infrastructure doesn't exist, and won't exist for years. Most builders have no idea what the true strengths and limitations are. It'll get there, but it's not a 2020 type of get there. Maybe 2025.


What? That makes no sense. What infrastructure? What strengths? All you're doing is solving hash puzzles because some people arbitrarily decided that solved hash puzzles have value.


You can tell the ordering of transactions in the absence of a trusted third party. There's an entire body of research dedicated to ordering transactions called Byzantine fault tolerance, but all of them require trusted parties to maintain consensus.

Cryptocurrency is the first time we could really escape that.

As for infrastructure, things like the lightning network will provide scalability, things like starks and bulletproofs can help both privacy and scalability, decentralized exchanges help accessibility.


Blockchain is closer to the early days of spam than anything else.


> That really depends on where you put 'beginning'.

It does not. In 1995 the Internet was useful for 30m people. In 1985 it was useful for 30,000. Email was better than paper mail from the get-go. Networked file transfer was way better than mailing magtapes or CDs. Remote terminal connections were way better than driving or doing long-distance dialup. The Internet was not the wonder it is today, but from very early on it had clear practical use.

> But more to the point, blockchains are useful now, just like the internet was.

Not really. I ask regularly here, and so far there's approximately no commercial use case where blockchains are better than some other technology. The main exceptions being hype, fraud, speculation, and some light financial crime like money laundering and capital control evasion. If you have some examples, I'll of course read them with interest.

My personal bet is that blockchains will be like XML: a technology that was going to be The FUTURE for a while, got put into a bunch of things (often generating large consulting revenues), and then quietly dropped later as people discovered that there were better alternatives for almost every practical use case.


XML is useful, if cumbersome. Blockchains have not shown themselves to be useful for anything at scale.


XML quietly dropped? If blockchains are dropped in the same manner, it will be around forever and ever. It will outlive Cobol.


Fair point. I haven't seen any new use it in years, and it's down to 12% of its peak interest:

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=US&q=x...

(Or less, perhaps, in that I suspect the peak was earlier.)

But yes, I'm sure it's in plenty of Y2K-ish enterprise systems, spreading like kudzu.


There are many widely used data formats, such as OpenDocument files, that are XML underneath, often packaged up as .zip files. Much engineering data, such as KiCAD printed circuit board layout info, is in XML. COLLADA, for 3D animation and robotics, is XML. Open Street Map is XML. If you need to represent a large, complex tree-structured data object portably, XML is still usually the way to go.


I agree that it's a decent approach for that extremely narrow use case.

My point is the extent to which that is different from the peak of XML's hype cycle, which was circa 2000. Then, XML was everywhere. E.g., eBay circa 2004 would render data internally as XML, which would get passed off to multiple Rube Goldbergian XSLT transformation layers on its way to becoming HTML. Or I did some work at a bank around then, and their internal architecture was very XML-heavy. There was no good reason for this, and from what I see JSON now dominates.

I note though that your examples were all created when XML's hype cycle was in full swing, and many have enterprise roots. I'll be interested to see if projects created today end up using XML even for the document-creation cases for which it was intended. JSON is also a way to represent large tree-structured data, and I wouldn't be shocked to see it take over most of the data sharing just because that's what everybody knows.


JSON tools tend not to scale. See [1] A 1MB JSON file will blow up some tools. Engineering models of real-world objects are much larger than that. There's sort of an assumption with JSON that you'll read it into a JSON tree and work on that, not process it sequentially.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12063626


I'm willing to believe that's currently true, but that doesn't strike me as much of a moat for XML.


> It does not. In 1995 the Internet was useful for 30m people. In 1985 it was useful for 30,000. Email was better than paper mail from the get-go.

You see that now. But in 1985 most people thought email was silly, if they knew about it at all. Why replace the mail? The mail is fine. It's only when you look back on it, with modern eyes, that you see how great it was.

> Not really. I ask regularly here, and so far there's approximately no commercial use case where blockchains are better than some other technology. The main exceptions being hype, fraud, speculation, and some light financial crime like money laundering and capital control evasion. If you have some examples, I'll of course read them with interest.

I stated some above. But i'll copy/paste:

  - Value transfer
  - Prediction markets
  - Asset trading/custody (not just cryptoassets, I mean, potentially real estate, equities, etc. can be tokenized)
  - Venture capital that is more transparent and open (the ICO space is obviously not there yet, but I think it can move in that direction)
Now, you may counter that existing institutions do these things just fine. But blockchains do them in a different way, with different properties. Just like email did the same thing as mail, in a different way, with different properties. For instance, decentralized exchanges exist - exchanges that don't require you to provide custody of your assets to the exchange. That is a true revolution, and it doesn't just have to be for crypto tokens. Those tokens can represent real life goods, property, etc. You can tokenize anything, in principle.


Having lived through 1985, most people did not think email was silly. Even we primitives of that dark age could tell that instant delivery was generally better than waiting a few days.

Moreover, the "most people" standard does not apply. I'm not asking what "most people" think about Bitcoin. I'm asking for evidence of delivered value to early-adopter audiences. In 1985 any crowd of tech people could tell you why email was better. It would have been easy to find non-technical academic staff who were excited about email, as many of them had been using (mostly non-Internet) email for years at that point. Neutral observers could easily be shown that it was valuable.

> I stated some above. But i'll copy/paste:

No, what you stated above was hypothetical. None of those are areas where blockchains are demonstrated to be better than commercial alternatives for any significant audience.

Ten years ago, even five years ago, I would have given you a pass for selling the amazing possibility rather than any actual facts. Sorry, but time's up on that. I'm asking for proof of traction, not further hype.


I believe the most common reason some people don't see the utility of cryptocurrency is that they have a real or perceived vested interest in the status quo around money not being disturbed.

It is often the case that:

Securities lawyers and traditional venture capitalists don't want a world where regulatory agencies and traditional venture capital can be routed around.

Those in financial law enforcement don't want the trend toward total financial surveillence, euphemistically called instituting anti-money-laundering controls, reversed.

More generally, those with a major economic or ideological investment in government-funded programs don't want people to have financial privacy that makes enforcement of the income tax more difficult, or to see an alternative to central bank issued currency, which gives governments the power of seignoriage, gain traction.

The utility of cryptocurrency is clear: sending value from point A to point B electronically without depending on an intermediary that can extract rent or surveil/censor the transaction.


The problem with this line of thinking is that the people most strongly interested in keeping financial transactions away from the prying eyes of government are criminals. Criminality is strongly correlated with negative-sum interactions with society, and that tends to provoke a response.

So if the best cryptocurrency early-adopter audience is people who are harming society, then you've pretty much guaranteed that cryptocurrencies will remain societally marginal.


That's a different debate. My point is that there is real utility in cryptocurrency. The denial of that utility of motivated not by a sincere belief that the utility is not there, but by an aversion to what that utility enables.


No, I'm denying that facilitating crime is generally "real utility".

In the case where criminals profit from harm, the criminals may personally experience utility from Bitcoin, but the total net utility is negative. E.g., if I steal your new $30k car and sell it to a fence for $10k paid in Bitcoin, I have experienced a $10k gain. But since you experienced a $30k loss, net utility is negative. Ransomware, often seen using Bitcoin, is another example of net negative utility.

In the case where the exchange in question is low harm, we generally see society evolving toward legality. E.g., marijuana has been declining in illegality, so the need for evading state detection declines too. There are now multiple marijuana storefronts within walking distance of my house. Bitcoin doesn't help them.

I suppose you could say I have an investment in government, which I call "being part of a modern, civilized community". So I do object to Bitcoin's money-laundering potential on those grounds, and also deny that aiding freeloaders in tax evasion is much in the way of "real utility", any more than any other tax evasion scheme.

Even if we're willing to call Bitcoin's financial crime usage "real utility", I don't think it's "real" for the purposes of this discussion, which is about comparison with the early days of the Internet. The comparison is only meaningful if the early "real utility" is indicative of future utility for a broader audience. That was obviously the case for something like email (which 90% of Americans now use) or online shopping (80%). But there's no particular reason to think 80-90% of people will be excited about risking IRS penalties and jail time for tax evasion or money laundering.


>>In the case where criminals profit from harm, the criminals may personally experience utility from Bitcoin, but the total net utility is negative.

In the context that you made the argument in, which is consumer demand for cryptocurrency, the type of utility we're talking about is utility for the user.

>>In the case where the exchange in question is low harm, we generally see society evolving toward legality. E.g., marijuana has been declining in illegality, so the need for evading state detection declines too. There are now multiple marijuana storefronts within walking distance of my house. Bitcoin doesn't help them.

Marijauna stores would benefit tremendously from a widely used cryptocurrency. Legal marijuana shops have enormous difficulty getting bank accounts.

The government pressured payment intermediaries into stopping donations to Wikileaks a few years ago. Cryptocurrency was a vital lifeline for the organization during the blockade.

Craigslists recently shut down its personals section, due to FOSTA. Adult entertainers are having their PayPal and Patreon accounts closed. Venezuela's economy has been totally destroyed by its government's interventions. Areas of China are being turned into an Orwellian dystopia: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/02/26/china-big-data-fuels-cra...

Your claim that ways of circumventing centralized control of financial transactions is growing unnecessary is totally unfounded.

>>I suppose you could say I have an investment in government, which I call "being part of a modern, civilized community".

So to clarify, you're not part of any of the groups I mentioned earlier?

>>But there's no particular reason to think 80-90% of people will be excited about risking IRS penalties and jail time for tax evasion or money laundering.

Filesharing is used by millions of people, and it is illegal. There are many countries in which taxes are widely avoided, so we also know that happens. In some countries circumventing govermment control is a matter of survival.

Cash, by its very nature of being fungible and untrackable, makes anti money laundering laws almost useless, and cash is used the world over.

Your idea of a global surveillance state to enforce taxes on private transactions and to track criminals as the only way to coordinate the use of resources and prevent crime is not the only future open to mankind, and you yourself obviously don't believe it is or else you wouldn't put so much effort in trying to discourage the use of cryptocurrency.

We could go to a future where law enforcement needs a warrant to know the content of a transaction, and where taxes are levied on immovable property, instead of being tied to private economic activity, and a strong civil liberties and economic argument could be made that this would have total net utility.

And it's not just circumventing centralized control by governments. Private financial intermediaries track their users' financial activity extensively.

On top of all of this, simply having a mechanism to transfer value electronically through an immutable protocol provides utility in avoiding rent-seeking by large trusted third party intermediaries who've attained large network effects.

The idea that there is no conceivable utility in avoiding payment intermediaries that can censor/surveil you, except to commit crime, let alone crime that is socially harmful, is preposterous.


I'm not putting much energy into discouraging the use of cryptocurrency. The main energy I'm putting in is to pointing out that approximately nobody uses it as a currency. The Bitcoin emperor may not be entirely unclothed, but it's at best a shopworn thong.

I agree some governments do bad things and would also like less of that. I just don't think Bitcoin solves any of those problems. China may indeed be turning into a digital surveillance state, but that makes digital currencies like Bitcoin ineffective given that they depend on a free and open internet.

I also agree that some countries are only haphazardly governed, with tax evasion as common. But I don't think there are many countries like that that a) don't have perfectly good ways already to evade taxes, b) have reliable electrical grids and internet grids, and c) have sufficient economic activity to make them trendsetters for the global economy. Is Bitcoin used beyond the level of anecdote in Venezuela? Possibly. Will that matter to the adoption of Bitcoin in most of the world? No.

I'm definitely not saying that there's no conceivable utility in cryptocurrencies. I'm saying that there's approximately no practical, demonstrated utility aside from some light financial and commercial crime. My main problem with the Bitcoin promoters is that the only thing they have is theoretical, imagined, conceptual utility. Selling the dream was fine 10 years ago. But at this point the reality is pretty clear.


>>I agree some governments do bad things and would also like less of that. I just don't think Bitcoin solves any of those problems. China may indeed be turning into a digital surveillance state, but that makes digital currencies like Bitcoin ineffective given that they depend on a free and open internet.

China can't stop people in its borders from using cryptocurrency. Neither can Venezuela, where it is currently helping at least some people survive. Electronically transmittable information is just too hard to contain, even without an open internet.

With the greater utility that comes from a larger userbase and greater liquidity, and technological upgrades like better scalability, it's easy to imagine cryptocurrency helping a lot of people, who are currently repressed by major institutions like governments, protect and increase their wealth, leading to a free-er and more prosperous world.

>>My main problem with the Bitcoin promoters is that the only thing they have is theoretical, imagined, conceptual utility.

There are other, better cryptocurrencies than Bitcoin. But I do agree that much of the utility of cryptocurrency is imagined and theoretical.

>>Selling the dream was fine 10 years ago. But at this point the reality is pretty clear.

Cryptocurrency was a totally new paradigm when Bitcoin launched 9 years ago. It needs more time to be developed and tested before a verdict can be passed about the technology's inherent utility.


You could say the same thing about any form of privacy.


> You see that now. But in 1985 most people thought email was silly, if they knew about it at all.

> Why replace the mail? The mail is fine. It's only when you look back on it, with modern eyes, that you see how great it was.

These statements may support your argument, but they have no basis in reality.


Prediction markets work just fine already, thanks. The blockchain equivalents are a terrible use of the technology, since they need to use external sources to get the results of markets. This means either trusting a centralized service (and so negating all of the advantages of a blockchain) or some complicated web of voting for the results (open to manipulation and over-the-top complexity)

Meanwhile, existing systems like Betfair's betting exchange have been working for over a decade.


My personal bet is that blockchains will be like XML: a technology that was going to be The FUTURE for a while, got put into a bunch of things...

That's an outstanding analogy, one I had not considered before, but certainly XML is far less..err...includable is perhaps the word(?)... into a software project then a blockchain-based datastore and verification would be, right?

Let's just hope a XSLT-like companion to the blockchain is never developed...


Intresting! They strike me as equally includable. It's easy enough to do XML-based persistence, or XML-based messaging between nodes of a distributed system.

Indeed, Jabber, an XML-based protocol, is seeing new life as a big IOT protocol. My cheap robot vacuum spends its day hanging out in a chatroom and communicating via XML, for example.


But if you think it's all a fraud, or that there is no value, then you're just not thinking very hard.

Seriously: Where is the actual value of crypto currencies?

I can see specific (limited) applications for the blockchain.

But you assert that people (who may have thought long and hard about the utility of crypto currencies) are lazy thinkers.

At the very minimum you could provide an argument instead of throwing around insults.


I've provided them several times in this thread, i'll link you to one:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17495834


You should look into projects like Golem (https://golem.network/home/), it allows people to use the blockchain to perform complex calculations such as 3d rendering or training machine learning models.

This is a great use case for the blockchain but you may have missed it if you only read Techcrunch articles about CryptoKitties.


> But more to the point, blockchains are useful now, just like the internet was. They're just not useful for all the things that are being promised (yet)

How long do we have to wait to find a valid use case for blockchains? It's been 10 years now and we're still asking the same question.


The main use case for block chains is quite obviously to skirt government regulation: black markets, unregulated securities and quasi-securities, etc. A secondary and related use case is to avoid the hassle and complexity of old fashioned equity and other fund raising constructs and to make easier international wire transfers.

Putting ethical concerns aside: these are very large market segments. Cryptocurrencies may be overvalued but there's definitely a real use case. It's just not a use case that governments, banks, or conventional VCs like.

I feel like all the claims to the effect that cryptocurrencies have no use case are ignoring the obvious.


I thought the main use case was gambling. Specifically volatility trading.


the main argument of Blockchain since its a public ledger is totally the opposite. total transparency in government, voting, public expenses etc.


It need not be a public ledger. I'd think it'd be simple enough to limit access to an intranet.


you mean people should trust the intranet of Putin during the elections something like that?


Also, don't forget countries with draconian currency controls, like Venezuela, produce demand for money transfers even if difficult and expensive.

And I think the hidden story of the "war against terrorism" has probably been a sustained effort to crack down on informal money transfers, and something like cryptocurrency is an inevitable response to the decline of traditional methods.


Ignoring tax evasion and other white collar crimes, selling drugs alone is a $36 trillion dollar a year industry.


I think maybe you mean billion. The Gross World Product is around 78T USD.


We're probably entering an era when enforcement of these kinds of laws will be either impossible or will require draconian surveillance and extreme penalties. Anything short of "iron fist" enforcement will be skirted easily using cryptography, darknets, etc.


I've definitely transferred assets to someone anonymously (not for anything illicit, it was strictly a non quid-pro-quo charitable act) using Bitcoin. I did not want this person to know who I was because I didn't want them to feel like they owed me anything.


How common is this use case? How is it competitive to other methods, i.e. mailing a money order?


I have no data on it and it depended on both me and the other person being Bitcoin enthusiasts... It was way more convenient to find the person's btc address than their physical address.


The traditional method I thought was wiring cash through Western Union.


> How long do we have to wait to find a valid use case for blockchains? It's been 10 years now and we're still asking the same question.

Here are some use cases that I think are potentially legit:

  - Value transfer
  - Prediction markets
  - Asset trading/custody (not just cryptoassets, I mean, potentially real estate, equities, etc. can be tokenized)
  - Venture capital that is more transparent and open (the ICO space is obviously not there yet, but I think it can move in that direction)


Eventually people are going to realize that

(1) all of these can essentially require transparency + encryption (i.e. git + signatures), not the whole blockchain,

(2) hence can be had without the huge energy losses (that come from many nodes (re-)computing the same result over and over, and

(3) centralisation is a feature most people want, because it helps resolve conflicts (à la Vitalik's centralised resolution of the DAO conflict).


> all of these can essentially require transparency + encryption (i.e. git + signatures), not the whole blockchain,

That's just empirically not true. You need to timestamp transactions in a BFT way for all those examples. No way around it.

> hence can be had without the huge energy losses (that come from many nodes (re-)computing the same result over and over, and

You can get this with Proof of Stake. But you do need a BFT timestamping mechanism.

> centralisation is a feature most people want, because it helps resolve conflicts (à la Vitalik's centralised resolution of the DAO conflict).

Citation needed. Centralization has upsides and downsides. It will take time to figure out how to do decentralization well.


> You need to timestamp transactions

No, for most things what you really need is a happens before relationship. Git does that better, since it supports multiple timelines (branches) that can be resolved (merged) cleanly if there are no conflicts (double spends).


> if there are no conflicts (double spends).

What about when there are, though?


Then let the person that everyone agrees to be an authority (the project owner) decide, not the person who happens to own the most GPUs.


That's a model that's totally great for open source projects. Not so much for currencies, or stock trading.


How is this any different from a government or central bank?


Merge doesn't happen, participants resolve the issue or raise a conflict with the central authority. Same as with Ethereum :D


> It will take time to figure out how to do decentralization well.

How long do we have to wait to find how to do decentralization well? It's been 10 years now and we're still asking the same question.


all of this makes sense to be but what happens when someone hacks your grandmas cellphone then they own her house title and she cant open the front door?

I guess you could have a 3rd party that has to verify everything ( government ) but then you are basically back to just doing it with a paper deed at the courthouse.


These are open questions. And it may be that blockchain will be an underlying infrastructure that is mostly used by large, centralized entities to settle between each other. But if that's the equilibrium into which we settle, individuals will still have the option to control their own assets in a true sense, even if most people choose not to.


The question is why would large, centralised entities use a blockchain to settle between each other? Large, centralised entities generally can and do trust each other to the extent required, so won't ever need a blockchain because they can use a more efficient system...


It may unfortunately be path-dependent, and the large entities that exist now will not choose to convert. However, if you imagine a parallel universe in which blockchain was invented before large institutions formed, then those institutions may have formed around Blockchains, because then they wouldn't have to trust each other.

Right now, getting into the 'trusted financial institution' list is extremely difficult. It's a slow, incremental process that takes decades of good behavior and careful stewardship. Part of the reason it's so difficult and so heavily regulated is because of how much trust we place in these institutions. If we did not have to trust them so much, it would be easier to become one. It would have less need for regulation. Incumbents would be weaker, and the industry as a whole would therefore be healthier. This is sort of an abstract point, but I think it's the truest sense in which blockchain may change the world: by commoditizing trust.


it would be really cool to be able to verify the ownership of any property on earth by checking Bitcoin or Eth block chain, but there would have to be a way to have authority unanimously change the record.


Beyond curiosity, what practical purpose would such a tool serve vs other methods of verifying assets?


by signing with a keypair you could prove to anyone online you owned something. to list a house or get a loan or mortgage you could use this.

a really neat case for this would be lost items. if each cellphone had its IMEI and your keypair associated you could prove you owned something lost. or if found someone could look you up to return it. you could buy a game or software once and never have to worry about a serial key.


You can do this now, by having centralized state based repository with API. Estonia might have something like this already.


I haven't worried about serial keys in years. Didn't need blockchain for that.


So how many copies of this enormous blockchain would there be in the world?


Perhaps a solution to that might be to give the government the authority to relabel a token. That is, every property is represented by a unique transferable token. However, the ledger that says which token represents which property is maintained by the government, centrally. Under ordinary circumstances, this ledger is not consulted/used but when say, someone has their property seized by a court, it might be.


This guy has done a great write-up of that question:

https://hackernoon.com/ten-years-in-nobody-has-come-up-with-...


you should try to send someone in venezuela money from your mobile phone. the you will understand


Transcript of text exchange with my sister just yesterday:

SISTER: Any interest in learning blockchain development? I'm getting into that world and will need someone reliable. Plus, I'll be able to expose you to projects and get you consulting gigs. I know you have your new job and all it's demands. Timing prob isn't good but figured I'd check in anyway.

ME: No thanks. I know the blockchain technologically is a thing but every application of it I've read about (e.g cryptocurrencies) looks like a scam perpetrated by people who think the problem with society is being social, misunderstand the history and purpose of the Federal Reserve system, and/or believe the idle rich deserve to be richer. I understand there's a lot of stupid money washing around in those circles. Just make sure you're playing with somebody else's money.

SISTER: I have no interest in the ICO crypto currency application. I'm more into the smart contracts. Id like to apply it to healthcare (help end the opioid crisis). Or the credit reporting agencies...get rid of them and allow individuals to control access to and use of that information. So many applications that are just beginning to scratch the surface. My MBA thesis project is using blockchain to help end the opioid epidemic through better diagnosis of individuals more prone to addiction or just getting it to sell on the streets.

ME: I've seen some discussions of using blockchains for things like certifications or logistics. They've all seemed kinda hand-wavey to me. Like yes there may be some minor efficiencies to be gained by moving to a new tracking/trust system. But the real issues will still be the humans at the ends of the transactions. I'm not sure how the blockchain fixes that. But maybe you can persuade me. Fortunately, the technology itself is over my head. I've seen some python tutorials I could probably dig up for you. But I don't have time myself to try to pick it up.

SISTER: The ledger platform we are currently planning to use (hyperledger by IBM) has some free training but apparently you need a basic understanding so I'm sure it will be way over my head.

ME: I hate to be cynical (j/k I love it) but I'm sure that's the point. IBM would love to convince the next generation of MBAs they need Hype(r)ledger™ and its attendant battalion of IBM consultants to reimplement a table or two that someone in the org already has working like a charm in a simple spreadsheet.

SISTER: Well duh...they're for profit public businesses. I would be worried if that wasn't their reason. That doesn't mean that the applications hosted on their platform aren't practical or solve a problem that prior technology couldn't. 90 people die every day from opioid overdoses ... what if your technology could reduce that number to even 80? Profits are secondary. Check out blockmedx.com when you have a second.

So there you have it I guess: blockmedx.com


> Patients can securely share access to their prescription records with interested parties and be compensated with MDX.

So patients are encouraged to sell their prescription records to "interested parties" in exchange for chits they can use to buy prescription drugs. Sounds altruistic to me!


What's the advantage, re: opioids, over a simple database?

What's a cancer patient going to do when they lose their crypto-opioid wallet password?


10 years in and still nothing to show but vague promises about "things" being worked on. Ideas men all around and some fools are still giving away money for those ideas that will never see the light of day.


"blockchains are useful now, just like the internet was"

Where is blockchain 'useful' for any common practice?


>blockchains are useful now

Honest question: for what?

I've yet to hear a use case where blockchains are actually solving a problem, other than "buy things on the black market".


I think that the EVM hasn't found its great use yet. But Cryptocurrencies in general are being used widely for international currency movements and as currency in distressed countries like Venezuela where the 'black market' is just the regular market due to government instability.


The Venezuelan bolívar is not a good example of prime markets for cryptocurrencies. The forced exchange rates, runaway inflation, and general mismanagement has created a black market in which literally any other currency is better.


I think it is a good example because cryptocurrencies solve the confidence issue people have in the local currency and takes away control of a single government to impose controls and depreciate the currency. You also get to bypass the notoriously bad banking system and since bank transfers cannot be reversed here, it's actually safer to trade bitcoins to bolivares than it is to trade bitcoin to USD using Zelle or PayPal.


Again, any currency solves the confidence issue, even gift cards, not just cryptocurrencies. There's an entire black market exchange with other currencies already in place.


How would you send fiat to a family member stuck in Venezuela ? I agree that the value of cryptocurrency is hugely inflated, but it's not zero either. It's a good fit in some scenarios.


You could (and people do) send gift cards, or pre-paid debit cards. These have the added benefit of being accepted in stores, etc, whereas cryptocurrencies... not really?


Anything of value sent via snail mail gets seized. CC and bank accounts denominated in USD can't be used. There is a black market where people pay with physical USD and crypto.


That's why people send the gift cards electronically, and they sell them on Facebook or something similar.


How would said family member actually convert the crypto into something that can be spent in their day to day lives?


With an exchange that transfers money to your local bank account? I know at least two that do that for Venezuela.


Paying people across borders.


I can already do that with my bank.


"...then you're just not thinking very hard."

Seems with all the rampant fraud that it's the developers that aren't thinking very hard.


> But more to the point, blockchains are useful now

For about 1/20 of the applications they are suggested for, best I can tell.


yep. the internet was around for years before it was viable. So were computers.


> the internet was around for years before it was viable. So were computers.

The first electronic computers were purpose built to crack wartime codes [1][2]. The problem preceded the technology.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombe

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_computer


A Bombe is really, really not a computer. It has more in common with a clock, it's a fantastically complicated machine, but a computer it is not. Check out a video of them being used and it's more obvious.

Colossus was a computer, although it's very unlike anything today because it isn't a stored programme computer. So it's more like one of those LCD watch games from the 1980s, it could do something else than what it's doing now, but only by literally taking it to pieces and rewiring it.

But your main point is spot on. In the mid 1940s several machines including Colossus are built mostly by military groups and these fulfill different criteria for bring a "computer" as we'd understand it. But by 1950 companies are already selling these new "computers" for commercial use. The US Federal Government bought several in 1951.


Segway has been around for years and still isn't viable for more than tour rentals.

Just because it's a technology doesn't guarantee it will be as successful as other technologies.


> They're just not useful for all the things that are being promised (yet). Also, just like the internet wasn't.

Exactly. The early internet was full of promises of taking over retail. None of that worked, at first. Instead the internet was useful for messaging and putting up personal websites. All the responsible people at the time kept whining -- how is it going to make money??

Well, people kept working on it. For years. Business cycles came and went. Eventually the promise worked out.


> Exactly. The early internet was full of promises of taking over retail. None of that worked, at first. Instead the internet was useful for messaging and putting up personal websites. All the responsible people at the time kept whining -- how is it going to make money??

What? This is nonsense alternate history.

The early Internet had active, useful messaging long before anyone thought it would be useful for "retail". The arrival of commercial spam on Usenet was a shock to everyone. And personal websites came before the dot-com craze.


> The early internet was full of promises of taking over retail. None of that worked, at first.

Timeframe? The early Internet was pretty non-commercial and the commercial services were generally proprietary and/or run by telecoms (Minitel, Prestel). There were a lot of failures in the 99/00 boom, but Amazon was founded in 1994.

> how is it going to make money

Ironically the question was more "how am I going to give you my credit card safely, given that cryptography is a technology subject to US export control".


The Internet was useful for a lot more things than messaging (without belittling its immense importance) and putting up "personal" websites. It allowed for efficient file transfer and retrieval of information across all distances, facilitating all sort of research and collaboration in the process. It nearly instantly provided a lever to all science and technology.

Online shopping was not a "promise" on which the Internet and its predecessors were built, it was merely one of an uncountable amount of use cases on top of an already useful thing.

In the early days, there were always way more users that wanted to get on the Internet at more times than possible. The scale of the Internet was never capped by interest or potential applications, but by available funding and technology. To me, that sounds like the opposite of cryptocurrency.


"how is it going to make money"

$6.00 an hour, outside of business hours, for 300 baud access to CompuServe.


OMG...me too!

Don't forget The Source as well...man did I ring up some outrageous bills back then ugh.


My parents cut my modem cable.


DAPP Radar is not the authoritative source for all Ethereum applications. There are many like Augur, Golem, MakerDAI, etc that aren't even included on that list.

Depends on when "early days of internet" is defined? The internet could be seen as an evolution of ARPAnet https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET which was defined in the mid-1960s and took years to deploy and probably decades to evolve to the usefulness you describe.

ETH network is moving to a Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm which will reduce it's electricity impact: https://github.com/ethereum/wiki/wiki/Proof-of-Stake-FAQs

And meanwhile, there are other blockchains, like Qtum, that are already Proof-of-Stake and run Ethereum VM and create blocks on Raspberry Pis, for minimal energy consumption: https://github.com/qtumproject/qtum/wiki/Installing-Qtum-on-...


As per your citation, ARPAnet came online in 1969 and emails were being exchanged by 1972, barely 3 years later.

Blockchains have been around for 10 years now and every year they cause bigger problems without actually solving any.


> Blockchains have been around for 10 years now and every year they cause bigger problems without actually solving any.

Being able to transfer value between two parties without having to trust anyone has value. We can argue about how much value, but it's non-zero.


> without having to trust anyone has value

There is a lot of trust involved in a cryptocurrency transfer. You have to trust your technical competence to securely mount your wallet. You have to trust the wallet you're sending money to is the wallet it's supposed to go to. You have to trust the person you're sending money todo what you're paying them to. You have to trust the network to maintain the value and convertibility of the currency you're sending and receiving. Et cetera, et cetera

In practice, nobody wants to do these things. So we see centralization at exchanges. Precisely in the way people not wanting to handle cash use banks.


> There is a lot of trust involved in a cryptocurrency transfer. You have to trust your technical competence to have securely mounted your wallet. You have to trust the wallet you're sending money to is the wallet it's supposed to go to. You have to trust the person you're sending money to will do what you're paying them to do. You have to trust the network to maintain the value of the currency you're sending and receiving. Et cetera, et cetera

That's clearly not the point. The transfer itself does not require trust. That's the value.


> The transfer itself does not require trust

Cash transfers and barters are trustless. Wires are trustless (in being reasonably irrevocable) in a manner similar to cryptocurrencies (i.e. if we ignore the plumbing). Cryptocurrencies solve for trust in the most reliable part of the trust chain while exacerbating every other element of transaction risk.


> Cash transfers and barters are trustless

Yes, but they require physical presence.

> Wires are trustless (in being reasonably irrevocable) in a manner similar to cryptocurrencies (i.e. if we ignore the plumbing).

Irrevocability is not the same as trustlessness. Your transaction is still being intermediated by an entity that can choose to appropriate your funds otherwise.

> Cryptocurrencies solve for trust in the most reliable part of the trust chain while exacerbating every other element of transaction risk.

I think I agree with this statement literally. The question is what price are we paying for that reliability? And does blockchain offer an alternative tradeoff that we might like better?


> Your transaction is still being intermediated by an entity that can choose to appropriate your funds otherwise

The frequency of each of coins being stolen from wallets, being lost by exchanges or pilfered by ICO frauds is far, far higher than anything happening at proper banks. Blockchains are a neat technology which should have never been marketed as a currency.


> The frequency of each of coins being stolen from wallets, being lost by exchanges or pilfered by ICO frauds is far, far higher than anything happening at proper banks.

What does that have to do with what we're talking about?


The statement you are defending was "Being able to transfer value between two parties without having to trust anyone has value." Compared to wire transfers, one is required to trust the intermediary in that case.

I think at that point it becomes fair to ask: what is the likelihood that I am going to lose money unexpectedly to my credit union, or my recipient to her bank? And then by comparison, what is the likelihood that I or my recipient are going to lose money to coin theft, exchange failures, fluctuation in valuation, or other things inherent to dealing with blockchain transfers?

Rightly or wrongly, I think many people would rate potential losses higher with blockchain solutions than with USD wire transfers. I know I would.


> Compared to wire transfers, one is required to trust the intermediary in that case.

You're totally right. But let me flip the question around a little bit. What would our financial system look like if we didn't have to place so much trust in our intermediaries?

It's not that banks aren't trustworthy. They are. They're extremely good stewards of the public trust, for the most part. But the fact that we place so much trust in them has systemic effects that are stifling to innovation. And I think that's what blockchains may allow us to overcome.


I hear what you're saying about banks stifling innovation. I think current blockchain alternatives highlight the tradeoffs, though.

I think risk is associated with stores of value. "I rob banks because that's where the money is." So we move the stores of value from banks to blockchain exchanges and hot wallets, and the risk moves accordingly. Now, instead of the risk being borne by organizations with decades or centuries of experience mitigating it, backed by the Fed, it's borne by people who barely understand the wallet software they downloaded, and Magic: The Gathering card traders who aren't as smart as they thought they were, and people who are absolutely definitely sure that smart contra--oops, let's just "fix" that.

So what you describe as centralized stores of trust stifling innovation can also be described as centralized stores of risk mitigating loss. And I think that's pretty much what we've seen so far.


I agree. Fundamentally, what we have here is the potential for an alternative model. It remains to be seen whether this model can evolve to be better - I absolutely agree that it is not better right now. I think that it has the potential to be though.


How exactly blockchains helps with that? It's open protocol which helps but most of the people interact with it through centralized points wallets providers, exchanges etc and we already see classic centralization. It seems to me similar as it is with Facebook which interacts with open protocols but is many people have to go through it and solutions seem to be legislatively rather than technological(although I hope projects like blockstack can help with this)


I think the main point is having an open protocol built on top of decentralized, trusted infrastructure. In that way, anyone can start a bank, and get to 'trust scale' immediately.


"But the fact that we place so much trust in them has systemic effects that are stifling to innovation"

Large banks have a lot of money to buy influence; that's the source of their systemic risk.

But you can do wire transfers at small banks and credit unions.


Yes, but even those small institutions are enormously careful with what they do, and are regulated heavily.


> What does that have to do with what we're talking about?

Generally speaking, if my things get stolen, "it was stolen by X and not Y" is not a value-adding rebuttal. It is actually counterproductive if X (e.g., a cryptocurrency thief) is harder to gain recourse against than Y (e.g. an FDIC-insured bank).


> Generally speaking, if my things get stolen, "it was stolen by X and not Y" is not a value-adding rebuttal. It is actually counterproductive if X (e.g., a cryptocurrency thief) is harder to gain recourse against than Y (e.g. an FDIC-insured bank).

That's certainly true. But the issues around people losing their coins and having their keys stolen can be solved by better UX and application security. Essentially crypto transmutes the problem domain, from a people problem to an application design problem. It's still a problem. It still needs to be solved, but the domain-transfer allows it to be solved cheaply at scale in a way that the human one can't be.

In other words, i'm making the claim that the issues you cited are not essential properties of blockchains, merely transient properties of their present implementations and UX. If you want to make the case that they are in fact central, i'd be happy to listen to that though.


"Essentially crypto transmutes the problem domain, from a people problem to an application design problem."

The fact that nobody understands how human institutions work is an advantage, because it prevents malicious actors from subverting them. Whenever someone figures out how institutions work, they destroy them and civilizations fall, so they evolve to be incomprehensible. So "transmuting the problem domain" seems like a bad move to me.


We may just have to agree to disagree here. I've never been a fan of security by obscurity, though obviously it does have some use cases. I think we have the opportunity to design secure systems that do not rely on the frailties and biases of human judgment, and I think it's worth exploring.


> If you want to make the case that they are in fact central

End financial services users repeatedly choose convenience and risk guarantees over self-management. This isn't something which can be papered over with a saucy UI, particularly when the tangible benefit is difficult to describe. ("Decentralization" isn't a benefit, it's an attribute.)


> End financial services users repeatedly choose convenience and risk guarantees over self-management. This isn't something which can be papered over with a saucy UI, particularly when the tangible benefit is difficult to describe. ("Decentralization" isn't a benefit, it's an attribute.)

Totally agree. In a hypothetical crypto dominated world, most people would still use centralized services to store their money. But they'd have the ability to opt out if and when they choose.


> In a hypothetical crypto dominated world, most people would still use centralized services to store their money. But they'd have the ability to opt out if and when they choose

The problem with this vision is those people using centralized services see no benefit. They are better off sticking with the status quo.

Cryptocurrencies make sense for people who wish, for philosophically reasons, to control their own money. That vision doesn't require a "crypto dominated world." It does, however, require shrinking the vision from "re-imaginging the financial system" to "solving a need for a small group of devoted people." That's okay, and if that's how crypto were marketed it would (a) be more honest but (b) come with a lower value.


It's not true that they see no benefit. They will see benefit in:

1) cheaper financial services 2) broader financial services 3) real-time financial services 4) access to financial services regardless of location (or nation) 5) decentralized applications fully integrated with financial services

The average Joe doesn't need to control their own private keys in order to gain these benefits.

But think of it this way. What would be more difficult, for an organization or company, today?

A) start your own bank B) start your own key management service

A) make an application that accepts payments as low as $0.01 B) make an application that accepts payments as low as .001 ETH

A) create a new protocol layer on top of the banking system B) create a new protocol layer on top of Ethereum

---

Today, we rely on perhaps at most a few dozen companies (PayPal, Stripe, VISA, MC, etc) to build interfaces with our banking system.

There is no "app store" for banking system financial services. It's hard, hard work to build anything on top of that archaic system.

Blockchain makes currency an internet-native construct. Which has profound implications that we are just beginning to see the very earliest examples of.


1. This was clearly true in the beggings now to so much. Scalability is hard issue which centralized solutions doesn't have.

Existing solutions also evolve and has become cheaper, faster and more accessible. Sure there are exceptions like political dissidents but that's relatively small group. If you would like to solve this issues on large scales like Venezuela than solutions would be mostly political rather than technical.


"1) cheaper financial services"

If a million people want to deal with each other without any trusted party to intermediate, then they have to keep a million ledgers and agree on a protocol for reconciliation. Once you've conceded over a million-fold factor of inefficiency, being cheaper doesn't seem plausibly within reach. I don't see the details as mattering much; it's the big picture that doesn't make sense.


> The problem with this vision is those people using centralized services see no benefit. They are better off sticking with the status quo.

Narrowly, yes, that's true. But I think there's a broader context to consider than that. Our current financial system is architected around these financial centers of gravity. Blockchains represent an alternative to that structure. Yes, there will still be intermediary institutions, but they will not have the same fundamental centrality that the current ones do. I think this is an important change, and one that is likely to lead to other changes that will be more directly appreciated by consumers and the broader economy than the philosophical self-sovereign money issues.


"But the issues around people losing their coins and having their keys stolen can be solved by better UX and application security"

Unless it's an Mt.Gox situation.


Irrevocability is not the same as trustlessness. Your transaction is still being intermediated by an entity that can choose to appropriate your funds otherwise.

Personally I trust those entities much more than some shlocky fly-by-night crypto exchange.

To each his own, I guess.


> Personally I trust those entities much more than some shlocky fly-by-night crypto exchange.

You aren't trusting an exchange when you send a transaction on the blockchain.


> You aren't trusting an exchange when you send a transaction on the blockchain.

This is true, but exchanges have become the de facto on/off ramp for cryptos. If I want to acquire bitcoin without mining, how am I going to do it other than buying from a centralized entity?

Edit: As I post this I remembered that Paradex, a decentralized exchange for ERC20 tokens built on 0x, was recently acquired by Coinbase[1], the largest centralized crypto exchange, who in turn might soon be acquired by Facebook[2]

1. https://www.reuters.com/article/crypto-currencies-coinbase/c... 2. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/ne...


> This is true, but exchanges have become the de facto on/off ramp for cryptos. If I want to acquire bitcoin without mining, how am I going to do it other than buying from a centralized entity?

Sure, that's true. But once you own them, they're yours to do with as you please. You can also buy them from someone peer to peer if you really want to onramp in a 'decentralized' way.


> You can also buy them from someone peer to peer if you really want to onramp in a 'decentralized' way

Now we're back to no advantage over cash or bartering.


Only for the onramp. I know that you know that, too. Why are you arguing disingenuously? You have a reasonable case to make, you don't need to stoop to that.


> You can also buy them from someone peer to peer if you really want to onramp in a 'decentralized' way.

This makes it seem like you can onramp via an exchange and still maintain all the benefits of decentralization. If I don't onramp in a decentralized way then there will also be a centralized entity with tremendous power.


What do you mean by that?


"Your transaction is still being intermediated by an entity that can choose to appropriate your funds otherwise."

They have a strong business interest in not doing so. Because the identity of the entity is known, and thus subject to reputation loss.


"And does blockchain offer an alternative tradeoff that we might like better?"

Why do I care about limiting the options to blockchain?


Cash and barter require trust that your counterparty won't club you and take your stuff, since you have to be physically present.


> The transfer itself does not require trust. That's the value.

Don't you need to trust nodes that they'll pass down and/or include process your transaction, and that they'll do so in a timely fashion? Which seems just like trusting that, say, your bank or the Mastercard servers will process your transaction properly? Not to mention the more mundane aspects like the fact that you still need to trust that your ISP won't cut off your access to the network, etc...

To me the value seems to be that nobody can forge a transaction based on your currency (or whatever it is you have), not the idea that you somehow don't need to trust anyone when you do transfer value.


> Don't you need to trust nodes that they'll pass down and/or include process your transaction, and that they'll do so in a timely fashion?

Yes, but their incentives are structured to align with yours in that scenario. You are trusting them to act in their own interest.


Isn't that the same with credit cards, wires, etc.? They make money from your transactions too.


That's true, but the degrees of freedom are different. The node processing your transaction cannot steal your money in crypto. It can only choose not to broadcast your transaction, and they are also in perfect competition with all the other nodes. Which means that if one node chooses not to process your tx, another will soon.


> That's true, but the degrees of freedom are different. The node processing your transaction cannot steal your money in crypto. It can only choose not to broadcast your transaction, and they are also in perfect competition with all the other nodes. Which means that if one node chooses not to process your tx, another will soon.

Hence we circle back to exactly what I said in the last line of my comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17493508


You're right, sort of, but I don't think those two things are really distinct capabilities. You trust your bank, because your bank could theoretically forge a transaction to themselves of all of your money. Or just tell you that your balance is zero and refuse to give it to you.


I don't really follow what you're saying now or how it related to the previous discussion to be honest. But to respond to what you currently said, I trust my bank because there's a chain of trust between us via the government and its relevant laws, not because of what the bank itself is or isn't physically capable of doing.


This is the last line to which you were referring, right?

> To me the value seems to be that nobody can forge a transaction based on your currency (or whatever it is you have), not the idea that you somehow don't need to trust anyone when you do transfer value.

What I meant is that the capability that "nobody can forge a transaction" and "don't need to trust anyone" are actually the same thing. You are forced to trust your bank because your bank could forge a transaction on your behalf. You trust them not to do this. That is the nature of your trust in them. Blockchain eliminates this weakness, and it is in that sense that you do not have to trust a 3rd party.


> What I meant is that the capability that "nobody can forge a transaction" and "don't need to trust anyone" are actually the same thing. You are forced to trust your bank because your bank could forge a transaction on your behalf. You trust them not to do this. That is the nature of your trust in them. Blockchain eliminates this weakness, and it is in that sense that you do not have to trust a 3rd party.

If this is really what you're saying, then you've completely changed your argument 180 degrees to match that of me and the above commenter (which is cool!), because earlier you said the exact opposite. Specifically, when the above commenter said "you have to trust the network to maintain the value", you rebutted that that "is clearly not the point. The transfer itself does not require trust. That is the value." Now that you've concluded that the actually is trustless storage rather than in trustless transfer, yes, I think we are in agreement!

Notwithstanding the above, by the way, it simply isn't true that "I am forced to trust my bank because they could forge a transaction on my behalf". It's actually the opposite... I don't trust my bank for precisely that reason. Rather, as I stated above, the reason I nevertheless end up ultimately trusting my bank is that I trust the government will have my back if the bank decides to screw me over illegally. Again: it has nothing to do with the bank's capabilities or lack thereof, and everything to do with the legal system.


I haven't changed my position at all. The transfer does not require trust. Both the transfer and the storage do not require trust.

> I don't trust my bank for precisely that reason

Yes you do, unless you don't have a bank account. The fact that you presumably have a bank account with a non-zero balance is evidence that you trust them not to steal your money.


> There is a lot of trust involved in a cryptocurrency transfer. You have to trust your technical competence to securely mount your wallet. You have to trust the wallet you're sending money to is the wallet it's supposed to go to. You have to trust the person you're sending money todo what you're paying them to. You have to trust the network to maintain the value and convertibility of the currency you're sending and receiving.

Good point. Although I would draw a different conclusion. Your point assumes this new technology is for direct human consumption. For me decentralisation, smart contracts and "the internet of money", along with AI, will allow autonomous agents operate and interact without human intervention. That will be transformative.


That's not really accurate though. Only in a perfect, unhackable world would you not have to trust anyone. People have their local wallets attacked and stolen through an incredibly diverse set of attacks, people fell for "mental wallet" concepts that were then easily stolen, and people have lost an enormous amount of value by trusting storage mechanisms and memory for passwords and wallets. Then on the flipside at least what, 80% of exchanges now have had compromises? Do you think this technology has really moved the bar forward around trust as a concept?


This is wrong. The trust is still centralized, but on the developers of the platform/crypto chain/smart contract, rather than on an institution. This has the incredible downside that if something goes wrong, I have no recourse.


> Being able to transfer value between two parties without having to trust anyone has value.

The value of a currency is based on nothing more than trust. It’s because people trust a (crypto)currency that it has a value; trust is the very thing that makes a dollar bill having more value than a random piece of paper.


Emails were being exchanged, to what extent? Could you email anyone in the world in 1972? No, like two people could e-mail each other. It's not like you had Gmail or even AOL in 1972.

Yes, email was used for business purposes in the 80s...but it took a long, long time for the internet to reach mass adoption and maturity. Decades.

Meanwhile, Ethereum was launched in 2015. Unless you think the tech has hit an evolutionary dead end...that it's not going to go any further, I think it's incredibly ignorant to criticize this nascent technology based on where it's at today.


The fairer comparison might be between services intended and hyped for mass public use. In that respect the nine year old Bitcoin protocol and its much hyped offspring and first nine years of the "information superhighway" world wide web are, to put it mildly, not comparable in a manner remotely flattering to crypto. And crypto had the web as a vector to push adoption and didn't require a high proportion of users to buy their first personal computer.

Sure, Ethereum will definitely have more things built on it, and attract new users and in all likelihood become more user friendly. But if you can write or evaluate bulletproof code, resolve oracle problems and trust the token's value to remain stable you can automate some transactions without third parties isn't a proposition as obviously universally appealing once bandwidth and adoption is there as anyone can be given access to anything that can be shared on a computer anywhere, any time.


"Newsgroup experiments first occurred in 1979. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis of Duke University came up with the idea as a replacement for a local announcement program, and established a link with nearby University of North Carolina using Bourne shell scripts written by Steve Bellovin. The public release of news was in the form of conventional compiled software, written by Steve Daniel and Truscott. In 1980, Usenet was connected to ARPANET through UC Berkeley which had connections to both Usenet and ARPANET. "

"Usenet gained 50 member sites in its first year, including Reed College, University of Oklahoma, and Bell Labs,[5] and the number of people using the network increased dramatically; "

"UUCP networks spread quickly due to the lower costs involved, and the ability to use existing leased lines, X.25 links or even ARPANET connections. By 1983, thousands of people participated from more than 500 hosts, mostly universities and Bell Labs sites but also a growing number of Unix-related companies; the number of hosts nearly doubled to 940 in 1984. More than 100 newsgroups existed, more than 20 devoted to Unix and other computer-related topics, and at least a third to recreation"

Sites participating in Usenet were using UUCP, which also allowed email.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet#Network


The rate of adoption of new technologies has sped up almost exponentially over time. You cannot compare email with Ethereum because of that. If you want to compare it to something, compare it to Docker which was introduced in 2013, and now containers are everywhere, because they are actually useful.


DappRadar is a useful but ultimately hand-curated list. For a more comprehensive look, https://blockspur.com/ethereum_contracts/transactions ranks every Ethereum smart contract by transactions, "users," and "revenues." The top 3 contracts with the most number of users in June had 370K+, 210K+, and 88K+ "users" respectively. (Disclaimer: maker)


This is a serious question as I want to make sure I'm reading this right: CryptoKitties really had only 274 users in the past 24 hours? The USV/Andreessen company?


Yes, another source is here: http://www.rolldice.club/cryptokitties/

It's worth noting that at its peak when CryptoKitties transactions hogged the Ethereum network and made it barely useable, CryptoKitties had only 14k users.


Some things scale horizontally, some things scale vertically. But some things scale diagonally.

If I would build a system that gets DoS'd with 14k users I would get fired faster than the latest startup burns through VC money.


To be fair, there's a known solution to the cryptokitty scalability problem (a particular type of "plasma chain" tuned for nonfungible tokens) and this is being worked on and will likely see the light of day pretty soon. This of course does not solve the bigger problem: the small user base.


Great. Now we just need enough spoiled rich 12yo girls and some get-rich-quick guys that bid on some imaginary kitties.


Right.

I was thinking about combining CryptoKitties and Second Life type breedable animals to make collectable ponies you could go play with and show off in virtual reality.

But no.


274 users is actually pretty good for a crypto company. Right now FunFair is a $150M company, and they only have 15 daily users.


Yes... and as someone mentioned, the amount is very low compared to it's peak - https://dappradar.com/app/3/cryptokitties (you can see all time history) - on 09/12/2017 it had around 14k daily users...


Even if the user counts are low it's pretty cool you can see a history of this stuff.


The early internet I used was just as barely usable as the Ethereum network is now. I remember being in the college computer lab and begging on simple things like a page to load. Just a few years later and I was able to watch videos on the computers streaming from the internet. Technology rapidly advances. I still realized back in those computer labs how revolutionary the internet was going to be, I feel the same way about crypto now.


That's the early web. The early Internet was connecting universities, companies, and government sites two decades before the web came around.


What attributes about crypto, makes you feel the same way? i.e. that it is going to be revolutionary

Because the example you said about the internet (from loading webpage to video streaming) does sound amazing. What's the "parallel" for crypto that you see?


Streaming money. What if you were paid by the second instead of by the hour? Or your bank account filled up live as you worked or performed services? Or companies that provided services to other companies were compensated in the same way? Businesses live and die by cash flow. What if cash flows instantly 24/7?

What if you were able to do micropayments efficiently on the web?

What if many contractual agreements between parties were settled on blockchain, and monies held in escrow disbursed automatically based on pre-programmed rules?


> Businesses live and die by cash flow. What if cash flows instantly 24/7?

Business payments are delayed not because there is an underlying fault in the payment systems (wire transfers are nearly instantaneous, at least within the country), but because businesses sit on payments.

A new technology isn't going to solve this problem. Businesses like to hold onto invoices as long as they can get away with it.


None of the what the crypto-currencies promise is impossible to do with a few independent central vendors implementing that same standards for payments and contracts.

And centralized solutions will always be faster.


Centralized databases are faster. Centralized consensus is dangerous for the same reason that a dictatorship is dangerous. The organization in charge of said solution would exercise dramatic control over the execution of said code. You need not look very far into the past to see egregious examples of organizations abusing their centralized position over data. I shudder the thought of a centralized actor having the same precise control over all monetary transfers.

Meanwhile, the banking system itself is not centralized. It's quite slow to settle monetary transfers from bank-to-bank.

Right now, Lightning Network is live on BTC's chain. It's instant, near free, and yet it's decentralized.


Look at how certificate transparency is done.. a few servers using same protocol is all it takes.

Most crypto-things have this idea that they servers validating transactions have to be compensated and that anyone can do this validation. (validation == mining)

Having a few well regulated entities do all the mining is a centralized system that can be verified externally. Without all the cost of decentralization. And with the added security that validators are trusted entities.


There are rarely completely centralized consensus. You have different sides which for better or worse create consensus together. You have a law, prosecutors, activists. Sure you have corrupt politicians which centralized power a lot but this would is a problem for crypto space as well because of the people will access crypto through a classical business which can lobby for own interest.


A settlement of a crypto payment is much faster than a credit card payment in terms of settlement time. And a credit card payment is centralized.


https://i.redd.it/l5y9p9nqwu811.png

This sums it up better than I could. The wrenching of power away from centralized authorities and organizations (which we have seen abuse us and our privacy mercilessly for their gain) to decentralized applications with no middlemen, that are free of censorship, and can not be "stopped."


I want crypto to succeed, but I have a hard time seeing the parallel you mentioned. One example benefitted you personally, while the other is a good concept in theory.

In your example of the early internet (too slow to load webpage, to streaming video), you described a direct benefit you experienced personally (you needed to access a piece of content and it got that to you fast)

But when you use crypto, you said it's revolutionary because it "wrenches power from centralized authorities". That is not a direct benefit you experienced personally. That description is a high-level concept.

So, it's hard for me to see the parallel.


Reading that, all I can get out of it is "Do things without people who are experts in that field, try to reinvent their expertise on the fly, and fuck up on the way."


Some of that is just playing with definitions. "Have Internet without an ISP", how? And how does cryptocurrency help?


LOL. You still need middlemen with cryptocurrencies in all those cases because the middleman is now run across computers that don't scale whatsover (hardcoded limit in processing which is the worst type of scaling possible and scaling is the main reason software is a profitable industry). To make matters worse, you have no way of funding the developers to build the software required for the decentralized software outside of "buy our coins and hope they rise in price forever".

How is there still this much FAD in cryptocurrencies considering their terrible scaling technology and economic solutions?


I'd hire a lawyer because I trust their legal knowledge.

So without a bank, who's going to loan you money? Because unless you're donating pennies from hundreds of thousands of people, it's going to be an entity with a fair amount of $CURRENCY, so basically a bank.


>It's weird because people compare it to the early days of the Internet... but the early Internet was useful from its beginning: you could at least send messages and files across the network, which was incredibly useful to academia and the military and was orders of magnitude more efficient than any alternative.

I don't think the ICO's are being compared to the Internet itself, but to the many early attempts at building webapps on it that ultimately collapsed in the dot com crash. That's what most ICOs are.


Googling for - blockchain "like the internet was" - retrives thousands of links.


On dappradar DAUs are measured by transactions to the smart contracts, which probably means a user is acquiring or trading a token. While writing to the blockchain is costly, it's free to read and verify between users the ownership of assets. Users of DApp games know this, as putting two cryptocollectibles to fight against each other requires only a read operation that will not be reflected in ranking sites.


What if we make a currency where each ICO is one coin?


It is more or less what ethereum is with ERC tokens


ethereum lets people create a coin and conduct ICO there are thousands of them https://www.coingecko.com/en/coins/all?asset_platform_id=279


Well most of the victims of "dot bomb" turned out to really not be that useful. It turns out Amazon does just fine delivering dog food. However there were enough useful services for the web to survive its near implosion in 2000-2001.


This is literally a (tongue-in-cheek) pyramid scheme right? https://dappradar.com/app/171/powh-3d


dappradar offers a very limited view of the activity on the Ethereum Blockchain. You should look into projects like Golem, it shows a great use case for the Blockchain and definitely justify an ICO.


Global network consumes more energy than tiny, sparsely populated country. Hmm.


Iceland has some heavy industry like aluminum smelting which requires massive amounts of electricity. The energy consumption is also including private households. Meanwhile Ethereum is handling currently less than 1,000 users in its core business: dApps.


> It's weird because people compare it to the early days of the Internet... but the early Internet was useful from its beginning: you could at least send messages and files across the network, which was incredibly useful to academia and the military and was orders of magnitude more efficient than any alternative.

How is running an ICO not useful to people? Get lot of money with only doing a lousy whitepaper, drive ferrari and live luxury life rest of your life. No joking, many people can't imagine anything better.


If you consider being the beneficiary of a boom in what is effectively fraud a "good thing," sure. I can driver a Ferrari if I literally rob people, too, but most people would consider the people I've hurt in the process when evaluating the merits of my actions.


What does the market say? ICOs seem to be very popular so effectively quite a lot of people seem to consider them a good thing, at least currently. Does useful mean the same as ethical? Those people do ICO's to raise money from other people, and it seems to work for them.


I think that's the joke; that there are at least enough of those unethical people that they can make money off it.


>Get lot of money with only doing a lousy whitepaper, drive ferrari and live luxury life rest of your life.

Sounds easy!

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