Randomness (r_ness) wrote,

Matt Levine, on Skedaddle and blockchain survivalists.

Matt Levine had a short but funny piece on two different blockchain related follies yesterday.

From https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-11-20/the-blockchain-might-scare-the-gig-economy-to-death:
One day 20 years from now we'll wake up and all of our interactions and performance will be tracked on the blockchain and will directly determine our income and socioeconomic status, and on the one hand we'll get pretty good customer service, but on the other hand we'll be terrified all the time. It is the logical endpoint of the "gig economy."

The thing is that this omniscient blockchain of terror will be run by Facebook, not Skedaddle. If you just come out and say that your mission is to build a dystopia of economic precarity and constant surveillance, then you do not have the soft skills to actually carry out that mission. (Never mind if you say that your mission is "to completely take down Yelp and Facebook reviews, while completely eliminating tipping.") If you say that your mission is "to make the world more open and connected," then you have the ruthlessness, and the facility with euphemism, to actually do it.
Actually, the Chinese are actually implementing a national reputation system, but without the whole distributed ledger part, because why would the Chinese Communist Party ever want something that wasn't directly under their control?

In the second part of the post he makes fun of blockchain survivalists:
Elsewhere in dystopian blockchain fiction, here is a story about doomsday preppers who are hoarding bitcoins against the apocalypse. Doomsday prepping and bitcoin enthusiasm go well together psychologically: Both involve distrust of modern social systems, and both tap into deep libertarian and self-sufficiency themes. But they don't go at all well together logically: If modern society is wiped out in some massive catastrophe, it seems unlikely that the electric grid and global internet infrastructure will survive to run an energy-hungry blockchain for a currency with no physical form that even now basically can't be used to buy anything.
Tags: money
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