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Robert_Wiblin comments on An Argument To Prioritize "Positively Shaping the Development of Crypto-assets" - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Robert_Wiblin 04 April 2018 12:16:28AM *  7 points [-]

Thanks for writing this up, you cover a lot of ground. I don't have time to respond to it now, but I wanted to link to a popular counterpoint to the practical value of blockchain technology: Ten years in, nobody has come up with a use for blockchain.

Comment author: rhys_lindmark 04 April 2018 05:10:59PM *  3 points [-]
Comment author: Robert_Wiblin 04 April 2018 08:39:54PM *  0 points [-]
Comment author: Kevin_Cornbob 10 April 2018 12:53:25AM 0 points [-]

Thought it might be useful to quickly go through that article's counterpoints (I'm basically making the bull case):

The title - it's misleading to use the ten years figure as serious development has only occurred in the past few years. For example, Ethereum, often referred to as Blockchain 2.0, went live in 2015.

Payments and Banking - Comparing to cash is silly as cash can't be sent across the globe instantly. It's like comparing writing letters to email. On comparisons to Visa - it's true in developed countries with strong banking the use case is not obvious. The use case becomes obvious for countries like Venezuela, Zimbabwe, etc. which is the use case most serious Bitcoin people talk about. Scalability is also obviously a problem currently, but many many projects are working on this exact problem right now. See early internet. Electricity usage is a problem particularly with Bitcoin's proof-of-work system, again there are many other blockchains working on other environmentally friendly solutions.

Freedom to transact without government supervision - He points to famous exchange hacks. Yes, those were terrible. Decentralized exchanges are currently being worked on/are already out to mitigate that point of failure. He then mentions a bunch of government protections that are worthwhile which again only matter if you have a trustworthy government. If you live in Norway or Canada or even America, ok great, but what about somebody in Venezuela or the Philippines? Many governments are significantly corrupt, the point of open blockchains is to get rid of relying on those parties.

Micropayments and bank-to-bank transfers - I have no idea if people will actually want to use micropayments, but there are some early interesting use cases like the Steem blockchain (basically a social network where people get micropayments for things like comments, posts etc). He then critiques Ripple, not based on its technology but on the volume its processed so far. Practically instant, nearly free, global remittance payments is just better than paying 10% or $30+ and waiting 3-5 business days. The critique reminds me of retailers critique of Amazon in the mid-90s - "e-commerce is barely 1% of all retail!"

I don't feel I know enough to comment on smart contracts and the other possible use cases he goes through.