The blockchain has been around for a while, becoming really popular this past decade or so. When I first got into college(Information Systems), I heard all my colleagues saying that it would be the future of everything, that all areas which deal with data would deal with the blockchain, that it allows for systems we never even thought possible before, for far more safety.
Now, we’re in 2023(unless you’re reading it in the future, in which case past me says hi) and… has any of those promises come true? Well if you read the title and/or don’t live under a rock you know the answer, but let’s talk about it shall we?
Oh but before, a honest AD about it:
Crypto currencies. Loved by so many back in the days when any computer could mine bitcoin… so what happened to them? Well, let’s see:
Joke coins like dodge coin became a tool used by a certain billionaire to make quick money, using his popularity to manipulate the market. Bitcoin and ethereum became so hard to mine it required entire GPU farms, causing a GPU shortages. Multiple crypto scams using Elon musk to bait people into giving them money on youtube…. and not to forget how volatile those currencies are, with bitcoin going down 50% then up 50% within a spam of a few months almost every year, at random points, based on media hype, governments bans/regulations, international crisis. Not to mention, it has a massive scalability issue. There’s also been multiple hacks that ended up successfully stealing billions of dollars world wide through multiple crypto currencies(usually hackers sponsored by North Korea or Russia).
How is all of this possible though? I thought cryptocurrencies were safe? That they were the future? Well, part of it is because cryptocurrencies are based on the pure belief they have value. It’s not backed by any country or any real thing. So if people stop believing over night, the coin dies over night, becoming completely useless data sitting on a computer. Another reason is the fact lots of people got conditioned to seeing crypto as a way to get super rich quickly, and thus end up falling for scams.
However, personally to me, one of the biggest reasons cryptocurrencies have been this massive failure is the fact that, while they were DESIGNED to be decentralized, a huge majority of it either sits at or go through a few massive companies. So if your goal is to use bitcoin “so the government has no saying on your money” or “major banks can’t control your spending” well, I’m sorry to tell you, we’re all stuck between a rock and a hard place.
If you read my article on why NFTs have failed in video games you may already have an idea on my opinion on the topic. A NFT is a “Non Fungible Token”, but you may also hear it being called “No F$# Thanks”. Every single NFT based project I have ever heard of has either died or completed it’s function of being nothing but a cash grab.
When you buy a NFT, aren’t even buying the item itself(be it art, in-game item or whatever), you’re buying metadata that points to the item. You get no rights to use said item on anything(if its something like art, you can’t use it for something like your business’ logo. If its music, you have no rights to use it on youtube as if you owned copyright), it’s giving money to a random stranger for the sake of being allowed to say you did so.
Now you may find NFTs stupid after reading a bit about them, but know that things have gotten better. After all, developments in the blockchain recently added the ability to rent the nothing that you own!
Finally, I’d like to talk about just how bad blockchain technology is for the environment. Because of its nature, based on hashes, encryption and such, blockchain based technology is inherently energy inefficient. Now, don’t get me wrong, encryption and hashing are important and useful technologies. They allow the web to be a lot safer than it otherwise would be, by encrypting communications between users and servers, and hashing important information in databases, so even if a data breach happens, less actual information becomes available to bad actors.
But for the blockchain, there’s no excuse. It is a technology that brought nearly nothing useful, but that consumes tons and tons of energy. The situation is so bad in fact that some countries like China completely banned ALL crypto currencies. Some sources point that mining alone was consuming roughly 86 terawatt-hours of power in the country. Not to forget the absurd e-waste generated.
My position on the importance of green computing, recycling and efficient use of energy is obvious, as I’ve talked about it in a post before, so I don’t need to repeat myself. In my eyes, the blockchain has done no good what so ever in this area, and will continue to do so, no matter how much crypto-bros try to defend it.
To wrap up this article, I think I expressed my discontent with the blockchain. It is a technology that has promised much, and which can do more than what is being used for currently, but has been nothing but a waste for the huge majority. It pollutes, it chugs electricity, has caused shortage of electronic parts for other areas, is far more centralized than people wished, used for crime a lot of the time, etc. Crypto is, and for a long time has been nothing but a scam.