Over nine months ago, the Berkeley International Computer Science Institute streamed Nicholas Weaver’s talk entitled “Blockchains and Cryptocurrencies: Burn it With Fire.” This week, he summarized the argument at the Enigma security conference. Ars Technica decided to cover the Bitcoin-bashing talk.
A nocoiner of the highest order, there is nothing about blockchain or cryptocurrencies that Nicholas Weaver likes. According to reporting in Ars Technica, most everyone who has ever held crypto “will almost inevitably say their wallet has been stolen.” The reader should note that there is no evidence to this claim.
Weaver also says that blockchain will not solve any problems in the world. Issues like monetary inflation and opacity in government or finance don’t seem to concern him as problems that blockchain can solve. According to Weaver:
“For all of those who say ‘blockchain will solve X,’ the only thing it solves is you now know the person knows nothing about X.”
Weaver believes the only way forward for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is total eradication. While he considers crypto-anarchists and those who believe in the potential of the blockchain to be extremists and dreamers, he is an extremist in his own right. Most nocoiners demand some form of regulation or guardrails to protect new users from getting “rekt.”
Weaver speaks with such passion against cryptocurrency, it’s hard to believe his motivations are entirely forthright in the public interest.
One of Weaver’s earlier talks about Bitcoin was as far back as 2013. He told a group of Naval post-graduates that Bitcoin is a “shared delusion of value” while explaining the mechanics of the blockchain.
Not all of Weaver’s criticisms are incorrect. While the technology we use circumvents government control, we substitute that control with the fiefdoms of minor and major corporations. This can have disastrous knock-on effects, like the recent compromise of KYC data at several crypto exchanges.
The situation where most of the work in cryptocurrency is performed by centralized services is a major concern. Decentralized exchanges are still emerging, while centralized Bitcoin payment processors and even mining outfits are the rule of the day. David Gold of the FIO Protocol recently told CCN:
“In fact, we’re in a world where most of what’s happening in blockchain is in centralized services. […] If crypto just keeps being an investment asset that has no real value in commerce, this is never going to go anywhere. The usability issue, again, is a core part of what has got to be solved for this to happen.”
Hacking of centralized cryptocurrency exchanges is almost a weekly occurrence. Benz Rif, the founder of a non-custodial wallet service believes that scams and hacks are chief among the concerns of the general public when considering cryptocurrencies.
Yet, with an innovation like the blockchain, we should “burn it with fire”? Unfathomably short-sighted. Multiple billionaires, major banks, and even governments disagree with you, Nicholas Weaver. As an emissary from the crypto community, I say “Bye, Felicia.”
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.
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Last modified (UTC): February 5, 2019 14:12