Comment author: Kevin_Cornbob 10 April 2018 01:13:06AM 1 point [-]

It's practically impossible to exactly predict how future technology will shape out, but intuitively I think if there's ANY significant chance whatsoever of blockchain being the next internet, or anything close, it would be massively positive EV to try to shape that for the better. Imagine if an EA person was the head of Facebook for example? It could be absolutely huge, even if simply from an earning to give perspective.

With all the uncertainty here and the obviousness of other causes, I don't know if this should be high on the list of all priorities for EAs at large, but it makes sense to me at least to have at least 1 person pursuing this.

I also very much agree with your read of the crypto community being ripe for EA ideas. It's already evident from a lot of the vocal people in the space that many of them care about the global poor. I assume however that many of them have not heard of AMF yet for example, so spreading those ideas could be really impactful imo.

Comment author: frankfredericks 04 April 2018 03:11:02AM 3 points [-]

I'm not sure I am completely convinced by the premise that EA need to be first in blockchain to be positioned to affect positive change in the blockchain or crypto spaces. If you look at technological innovation from a historical lens, often the first mover fails, and from their ashes rises another company/entity that picks up the concept and runs with it. While not the thesis of The Innovators Delimma by Clayton Christiansen, it's certainly a recognized pattern throughout the book. For us I think that means that both the crytocurruencies and actual blockchain system as it stands will likely fail, but we'll see someone else build an improved version of blockchain technology that can actually be mainstreamed, and most of what we know today will be as relevant as the companies of the first dotcom bust. That's not a fact, but the empiricial evidence makes it probable.

Comment author: Kevin_Cornbob 10 April 2018 01:03:58AM 0 points [-]

It's true that the first mover often fails, but I also think it's clear that there seems to be a window of opportunity early on which gets harder to get through over time. For example, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon were all around before the dotcom bust. And while Facebook wasn't the first social network, it seems to have gotten to such strong network effects that it's likely to crush any challenger (as it's currently successfully doing to Snapchat). Surely most of the current blockchains will fail (I mean there's over 1000 of them), but it's very possible someone has already built an improved version that can be mainstreamed.

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: 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.

Comment author: Jan_Kulveit 04 April 2018 10:40:55AM *  6 points [-]

The articles has quite a lot of arguments, so to pick just one manageable topic: I think it's worth to dispute, on empirical grounds, the claim that cryptocurrencies lead to a redistribution of wealth which is somehow less centralized.

According to https://howmuch.net/articles/bitcoin-wealth-distribution about 4% of addresses own above 96% of wealt.

In comparison, in relatively strong European states the top 10% own just above 37% of income. (http://wir2018.wid.world/executive-summary.html)

Comment author: Kevin_Cornbob 10 April 2018 12:17:59AM 2 points [-]

The claim in the OP was not that crypto's wealth is currently less centralized, it was that crypto could lead to a massive redistribution/creation of wealth in general. And that if EAs could get involved, that could lead to a more even distribution of wealth on the whole.

It's also misleading to use strong European states' income numbers as a comparison. My understanding is that those are among the countries with the most equal societies and using income numbers is always more equal than using wealth numbers because rich people tend to have a large amount of assets which count as wealth but not income. For example, in America the top 1/10 of 1% hold more wealth than the bottom 60% of Americans.