Morlock Elloi on Thu, 1 Mar 2018 04:37:08 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Josh Hall: Blockchain could reshape our world – and the far right is one step ahead (Guardian)

I have hard time understanding how is blockchain special, unique, and apart from other technologies, relative to dystopian outlook in the article.

The only difference between blockchain and prior technologies (public cryptography, including signatures and certificates, databases, etc.) is the verifiable permanence of the previously unknown commitment: once something is put there, it is hard to modify later. I want to be very specific here: if someone has committed something to blockchain in the past, and the verifier knew nothing about that commitment until the present, the verifier can verify the commitment once it gets interested in it.

This is the *only* difference. There is nothing else.

Blockchain is specifically redundant if:

a - the verifier knew about the commitment at the time of committing (just keep the hash);

b - the verifier wants to check authenticity of the commitment transported over untrusted channel, from a trusted authenticated committer (use committer's public key);

There are more, but these two are relevant.

While the article elaborates on real issues when computing machines start to mediate the totality of human interactions, these issues have nothing to do with blockchain, that's bs. Using popularity of the 'blockchain' meme to prop them up is misleading and will fire back.

Every single of the enumerated mechanisms can be better executed without blockchain. Immutability of previously unknown commitments is not a factor in any of them. In each of them either (a), (b), or both, hold true.

This includes smart contracts, which are programs ran on distributed VM where the majority of identical results wins. The results mean something, but who cares? The only things the results affect are inside the VM itself (like transfer of funds of blockchain-based currency between accounts.) For anything outside VM we are back to (a) and (b).

For example, the smart contract stipulates that you must have sex with person X if account Z transfers specific amount to account Y. This happens, but you don't feel like it. So X sends the police to force you. This is much easier achieved by registering the contract on the sex police computer.

And so on.

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