Saturday, December 31, 2016

BlockChain Follies

Ungh...  I am travelling and this got published before I was ready...

Recently I encountered a scammer who said he had launched the blockchain ground floor architecture with some $5 million is seed funding, and was inviting me among others to be impressed and talk about him.  No.

I was there at the advent of computers, and they are yet to yield a net benefit.  Show me you see what was lost, then you can total up what you think was gained, and give me your assessment: have computers offered us a net benefit?  If you account accurately, the answer is no.

So the constant promise is computers will set you free, a promise on par with Jesus saying the truth will make you free.  The promise must be huge, because the reality is short on deliverables.

The proffered benefits are secrecy and security.  What nonsense.  As if the internet is something the intel agencies cannot control.  They already do.  InQTel controls people down to their skin care.

The key fallacy is blockchain will allow anyone anywhere to be able to trust anyone anywhere regarding any even online.  Who, outside of an intelligence agency, needs an infrastructure which offers this benefit?  Donald Trump has probably a dozen people he needs to trust, after that it is all six degrees of separation.    We all need few others we trust to be effective, we all have a limited capacity to engage others, emotional, mental physical.  Even if true, how would blockchain transform this present reality?

Is this a video gamers dream?  In a video game thouisands of people are killed in a few minutes time, giving the impression that one is a superman, able to engage many people from all over the world in one place and deal with them all effectively.

Life is different.

Blockchain proposes to change the eternal aphorism from "it's all who ya know" to "it's all who you don't know" as if being able to transact with people you do not know will somehow improve your life, give you some advantage.  If so, how?  No word on that yet.

Where the internet is not being used, but could be effective, but not allowed. (I'll expand on this point, for example, allowing all patients to upload their medical histories to public sites so we can plainly see which hospitals are running secret human subject trials on the ill, as USA did in the Tuskegee experiments).

So to harness a generation to play at life, from well within the confines of mom's basement, in a world no more real the Grand Theft Auto, we have blockchain.  Here is an article promising "the world is different now":
uPort will feature tight integration of RepSys, our multifaceted, multi-tiered reputation system, that enables people, organizations and things (devices or software) to attest to the conduct of their counterparties with respect to various kinds of transactions: buying/selling, lending/borrowing/repaying, collaborating on projects, gaming interactions, and data quality and reliability. uPort serves as a container for reputational attributes like email addresses, Facebook URLs or state issued ID.
Oh. State issued ID.  Well, there is the money shot, as long as you submit your system to the hegemon, then it will be permitted.
Identity providers like governments, banks, and IT companies can cryptographically sign such attributes attesting to their validity using “reputational attestations.” 
There are two funny tactical errors in this article, the first is to cite Herbert Coase, a Nobel laureate for his work putting a halo on the hegemon's depradations.   The next is case law cited involving Florida land sales scams, from the 1940s, as a precedent for blockchain.  I think sometimes the people behind these movements have fun abusing their devotees.

This is not just the rantings of some cranky old man.  I am self-employed, I get to eat based on my productivity.  I have done everything with computres that can be done, I was in on TalkCity at ten cents a share and it went up to $35 something in its IPO, I have a profitable ecommerce site that has outlasted 1000 competitors... I beat the publishers and POD,  I deliver courses over the internet.  Few people have exploited the web as thoroughly as I have.  And I make it pay.  But it is hardly an improvement over anything we had before.  I know, as I have the advantage of having had worked n both worlds.

But the insurmountable alternative to this blockchain hype is the reality that anarchy works.  Think of business like those wagon trains (in fact businesses), which had private law agreed to at the beginning, all voluntary, and worked out quite well.  Violators were shunned, that is tossed out of the train. And anyone at anytime could elect to leave or gone on his own (important if you find yourself travelling with the Donner party.) At the end, this "government" (non-hegemomic) simply ceased to exist.  Any business relationship, indeed a lifelong career in self-employment, needs nothing.  How does blockchain in any way help?  Except to feed some fantasy of how the world works.  And at he same time to delight the hegemon with what, yet again, alacrity people clamor to be oppressed.

It has lowered to cost and widened the access to communication and research, but the vast majority of communication is desultory and the research pointless.  It has speeded some things up, but that which is faster was never in a hurry to begin with.

Time spent integrating into this blockchain thing is time not spent being productive, and thus you'll deny the rest of us the good of your genius, what you ought to have been doing.

Feel free to forward this by email to three of your friends.