Control as Liability

Generally, unintended consequences of laws, discouraging entire categories of activity when one wanted to only surgically forbid a few specific things, are considered to be a bad thing. Here though, I would argue that the forced shift in developers’ mindsets, from “I want to control more things just in case” to “I want to control fewer things just in case”, also has many positive consequences. Voluntarily giving up control, and voluntarily taking steps to deprive oneself of the ability to do mischief, does not come naturally to many people, and while ideologically-driven decentralization-maximizing projects exist today, it’s not at all obvious at first glance that such services will continue to dominate as the industry mainstreams. What this trend in regulation does, however, is that it gives a big nudge in favor of those applications that are willing to take the centralization-minimizing, user-sovereignty-maximizing “can’t be evil” route.Hence, even though these regulatory changes are arguably not pro-freedom, at least if one is concerned with the freedom of application developers, and the transformation of the internet into a subject of political focus is bound to have many negative knock-on effects, the particular trend of control becoming a liability is in a strange way even more pro-cypherpunk (even if not intentionally!) than policies of maximizing total freedom for application developers would have been. Though the present-day regulatory landscape is very far from an optimal one from the point of view of almost anyone’s preferences, it has unintentionally dealt the movement for minimizing unneeded centralization and maximizing users’ control of their own assets, private keys and data a surprisingly strong hand to execute on its vision. And it would be highly beneficial to the movement to take advantage of it.

Source: Control as Liability

What a Bitcoin ‘Reorg’ Is and What Binance Has to Do With It – CoinDesk

“If you bribe 51 percent of the miners, they will change the ledger for you. [This] tells you just how little irreversibility there is in PoW coins,” tweeted Cornell University professor and researcher in blockchain consensus protocols Emin Gün Sirer.A 51% attack on the blockchain network is not a new attack vector for PoW blockchains. However, as highlighted by Gün Sirer, it’s also not really an attack vector. On very special instances, the majority of self-interested miners on PoW blockchains have voluntarily agreed to alter a transaction history to undo critical situations.While the situation isn’t entirely the same, in the past, blockchain networks have seen their histories altered in the wake of critical moments. This happened on the ethereum blockchain back in 2016 when over $60 million worth of coins were siphoned off from the now-defunct smart contract The DAO. It also happened on the vericoin blockchain back in 2014 after $8 million worth of coins were hacked.While controversial, both decisions were supported by the primary developer community who launched system-wide upgrades or hard forks to enable otherwise infeasible amendments to the blockchain transaction history.Yet those choices weren’t without their repercussions; the resulting ethereum fork resulted in two distinct chains, ethereum and ethereum classic, respectively.A resounding noStill, many in the bitcoin community took to social media to deride the idea as both infeasible as well against the philosophical underpinnings of the technology.In Binance’s particular case, prominent members of the bitcoin community point out that bitcoin being the world’s largest blockchain is a particularly unique case with a reputation to uphold.“Talk of forking or reorganizing the blockchain is close to heresy,” tweeted billionaire bitcoin investor Michael Novogratz. “When the ethereum community did it the project was like 5 months old. A baby. Bitcoin now has $100bn market cap and is a legitimate store of wealth.”It would also be unfair according to Adam Back – CEO of bitcoin development startup Blockstream – given that the latest Binance hack is nowhere near as severe as previous hacks suffered on the bitcoin blockchain.“A Bitcoin reorg is just not happening, and I doubt any Bitcoin industry, miners nor developers considered it either. Recall 2014 $473mil, 2016 bitfinex hack $72mil, 2019 binance $40mil etc. #NotHappening,” tweeted Back.

Source: What a Bitcoin ‘Reorg’ Is and What Binance Has to Do With It – CoinDesk

‘A Loan Shark Situation’: MakerDAO Is Leaving Crypto Borrowers With Rising Bills – CoinDesk

An ethereum protocol for programmatic lending, MakerDAO emerged as a clear market leader in part for its rock-bottom interest rates of 0.5 percent.But the code behind MakerDAO requires interest rates to do more than extract business from borrowers, it’s a technological necessity for keeping its DAI stablecoin worth $1.With interest rates rising to 19.5 percent, and DAI still worth below $1, some early borrowers are angry, feeling as though they were misled.Describing the project’s marketing tactics as akin to digital “loan sharks,” they argue their experience with decentralized finance has been worse than with traditional banking.

Source: ‘A Loan Shark Situation’: MakerDAO Is Leaving Crypto Borrowers With Rising Bills – CoinDesk

IBM and Maersk Struggle to Sign Partners to Shipping Blockchain – CoinDesk

It’s hard enough to get enterprises that compete with each other to work together as a team, but it’s especially tricky when one of those rivals owns the team.Shipping giant Maersk and tech provider IBM are wrestling with this problem with TradeLens, their distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform for supply chains.Some 10 months ago, the project was spun off from Maersk (the largest container shipping company on the planet) into a joint venture with IBM. But in that time the network has enticed only one other carrier onto the platform: Pacific International Lines (PIL), one of eight shipping lines in Asia and 17th in the world based on cargo volumes.As those involved admit, that’s not enough.

Source: IBM and Maersk Struggle to Sign Partners to Shipping Blockchain – CoinDesk

Four Days Trapped at Sea With Crypto’s Nouveau Riche

All of this is a sign of a micro-economy in trouble, as Muhammad Salman Anjum, an investor who eats dinner alone by himself in the buffet hall each night, explains. He has a pragmatic take on all these beautiful young women having blockchain exhaustively explained to them by schlubby-looking guys who can’t believe their luck. ”One of the elements in blockchain is about fundraising the ICOs. So you can guess why they are here—to pamper the investors. Because it’s tough now.”In 2017, Salman says, it was relatively easy to raise funds for a nine-figure ICO. Now that crypto prices have crashed, demand on “the supply side of the ICOs is booming, and the demand for the investors is shrinking.” Since the actual mood at this moment is conservative-going-on-terrified, these glamorous models seem to have been hired to give the ship—and the passengers’ selfies—the glitzy appearance of the boom times of 2017.One of the ways men bond is by demonstrating collective power over women. This is why business deals are still done in strip clubs, even in Silicon Valley, and why tech conferences are famous for their “booth babes.” It creates an atmosphere of complicity and privilege. It makes rich men partners in crime. This is useful if you plan to get ethically imaginative with your investments. Hence the half-naked models, who are all working a lot harder than any of the guys in shirtsleeves.The cruise’s panelists all tout decentralization’s promises of shared responsibility, community, and freedom, but the version I see here means that nobody knows precisely who is responsible for all of this. It’s nobody’s specific fault that we’re trapped on a floating live-action walkthrough of how un-trammelled free-market capitalism can be bad for women, given that money and power are things women tend to have less of.

Source: Four Days Trapped at Sea With Crypto’s Nouveau Riche

The perfect storm: building a crypto-utopia in Puerto Rico – video | US news | The Guardian

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILJaqAQctyE

In a time of vulnerability, crypto investors are moving to Puerto Rico, attracted by lucrative tax incentives. They plan to regenerate the island using blockchain technology. But not all of the locals support their bold plans

Source: The perfect storm: building a crypto-utopia in Puerto Rico – video | US news | The Guardian

Brock Pierce: The Hippie King of Cryptocurrency – Rolling Stone

Pierce, meanwhile, was about to try to repeat his success in e-sports when people began mentioning cryptocurrency to him roughly a year after the first Bitcoins were mined. Pierce was shocked that he’d never heard of it. “There were no storytellers who knew how to convey the information in simple insights, so it required a lot of real heavy lifting to figure out,” he says. “I didn’t have the time to appreciate the power of decentralization at first. The day I got it, I knew that was it.”Bannon recently took a leap into cryptocurrency as well, not just because of its financial implications, but because of its political ones. “This whole populist revolt is going to come down to this concept of currency,” he says. “You can see the forces that are aligned to take advantage of it. Every smart person that I admire in the world, and those I semi-fear, is focused on this concept of crypto for a reason. They understand that this is the driving force of the fourth industrial revolution: steam engine, electricity, then the microchip – blockchain and crypto is the fourth. There’s going to be a war for control for this.”Once Pierce caught on to the potential of this new digital cash, he became an evangelist, giving away Bitcoins to everyone he could, whether to an influencer or to the audience at one of his talks. He eventually stopped giving the money away because “no one appreciated it, then they lost it, and it was a waste of my fucking time. I get messages all the time from people saying, ‘I think of how much I lost because I didn’t take it seriously.’ ”

Source: Brock Pierce: The Hippie King of Cryptocurrency – Rolling Stone

On-Chain Vote Buying and the Rise of Dark DAOs

Dark DAO operators can further muddy the waters by launching attacks on choices the vote buyers actually oppose as potential false flag operations or smear campaigns; for example, Bob could run a Dark DAO working in Alice’s favor to delegitimize the outcome of an election Bob believes he is likely to lose.  The activation threshold, payout schedule, full attack strategy, number of users in the system, total amount of money pledged to the system, and more can be kept private or revealed either selectively or globally, making such DAOs ultimately tunable for structured incentive changes.Because the organization exists off-chain, no cartel of block producers or other system participants can detect, censor, or stop the attack.

Source: On-Chain Vote Buying and the Rise of Dark DAOs

Cloud Communities: The Dawn of Global Citizenship? – Globalcit

Contents:
Cloud Communities: The Dawn of Global Citizenship?, kickoff contribution by Liav Orgad
Citizenship in Cloud Cuckoo Land?, by Rainer Bauböck
Citizenship in the Era of Blockchain-Based Virtual Nations, by Primavera De Filippi
Global Citizenship for the Stay-at-Homes, by Francesca Strumia
A World Without Law; A World Without Politics, by Robert Post
Virtual Politics, Real Guns: On Cloud Community, Violence, and Human Rights, by Michael Blake
A World Wide Web of Citizenship, by Peter J. Spiro
Citizenship Forecast: Partly Cloudy with Chances of Algorithms, by Costica Dumbrava
The Separation of Territory and State: a Digital French Revolution?, by Yussef Al Tamimi
A Brave New Dawn? Digital Cakes, Cloudy Governance and Citizenship á la carte, by Jelena Dzankic
Old Divides, New Devices: Global Citizenship for Only Half of the World, by Lea Ypi
Escapist technology in the service of neo-feudalism, by Dimitry Kochenov
Cloud communities and the materiality of the digital, by Stefania Milan
Cloud Agoras: When Blockchain Technology Meets Arendt’s Virtual Public Spaces, by Dora Kostakopoulou
Global Cryptodemocracy is Possible and Desirable, by Ehud Shapiro
The Future of Citizenship: Global and Digital. A Rejoinder, by Liav Orgad