Thought-provoking, beautifully written piece. While I’m a tech-optimist myself, what I find worrying about crypto idealism is the implicit promise of immutable truth.
If the fall of Mt. Gox, the volatility of Bitcoin, and growing crypto-enabled criminal laundering/black markets tell us anything, it’s that at the end of the day it’s still our ‘animal spirits’, human wetware behind it all. Some potential downsides:
Total Anonymity — negates accountability. Enables total freedom. If no one is watching, will people stay good? Can society survive without accountability?
Total Permanence — on the opposite end, with the adoption of crypto into other major institutions — say, healthcare — your identity, and history, could become inextricably shackled to the ledger. Not freed. Life reduced to data, commoditized and transactional.
Total Security — reeks of ‘too big to fail’ (too secure to fail?). Plus, keys are always held by people — I can see social engineering/advanced phishing becoming an even larger problem.
Total Decentralization — the free market promises this too. Without central(ish) authority or regulation comes the potential for high volatility/anarchy, demagoguery and the mass manipulation of crypto markets. Not too mention, again, zero accountability.
It comes down to debating human nature. If the medium is the message, how might all this shape us? What does block-chain integrated art look like? What do our hopes/worries over crypto tell us about ourselves?
Either way, I think we’ve all seen enough Black Mirror to see where this could go. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.