I'm sorry, that was crass, they actually seem to offer some worthy services.
Blockchain is not only crappy technology but a bad vision for the future. Its failure to achieve adoption to date is because systems built on trust, norms, and institutions inherently function better than the type of no-need-for-trusted-parties systems blockchain envisions. That’s permanent: no matter how much blockchain improves it is still headed in the wrong direction.
This December I wrote a widely-circulated article on the inapplicability of blockchain to any actual problem. People objected mostly not to the technology argument, but rather hoped that decentralization could produce integrity.Let’s start with this: Venmo is a free service to transfer dollars, and bitcoin transfers are not free. Yet after I wrote an article last December saying bitcoin had no use, someone responded that Venmo and Paypal are raking in consumers’ money and people should switch to bitcoin.What a surreal contrast between blockchain’s non-usefulness/non-adoption and the conviction of its believers! It’s so entirely evident that this person didn’t become a bitcoin enthusiast because they were looking for a convenient, free way to transfer money from one person to another and discovered bitcoin. In fact, I would assert that there is no single person in existence who had a problem they wanted to solve, discovered that an available blockchain solution was the best way to solve it, and therefore became a blockchain enthusiast.There is no single person in existence who had a problem they wanted to solve, discovered that an available blockchain solution was the best way to solve it, and therefore became a blockchain enthusiast.The number of retailers accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment is declining, and its biggest corporate boosters like IBM, NASDAQ, Fidelity, Swift and Walmart have gone long on press but short on actual rollout. Even the most prominent blockchain company, Ripple, doesn’t use blockchain in its product. You read that right: the company Ripple decided the best way to move money across international borders was to not use Ripples.A blockchain is a literal technology, not a metaphorWhy all the enthusiasm for something so useless in practice?People have made a number of implausible claims about the future of blockchain—like that you should use it for AI in place of the type of behavior-tracking that google and facebook do, for example. This is based on a misunderstanding of what a blockchain is. A blockchain isn’t an ethereal thing out there in the universe that you can “put” things into, it’s a specific data structure: a linear transaction log, typically replicated by computers whose owners (called miners) are rewarded for logging new transactions.There are two things that are cool about this particular data structure. One is that a change in any block invalidates every block after it, which means that you can’t tamper with historical transactions. The second is that you only get rewarded if you’re working on the same chain as everyone else, so each participant has an incentive to go with the consensus.The end result is a shared definitive historical record. And, what’s more, because consensus is formed by each person acting in their own interest, adding a false transaction or working from a different history just means you’re not getting paid and everyone else is. Following the rules is mathematically enforced—no government or police force need come in and tell you the transaction you’ve logged is false (or extort bribes or bully the participants). It’s a powerful idea.So in summary, here’s what blockchain-the-technology is: “Let’s create a very long sequence of small files — each one containing a hash of the previous file, some new data, and the answer to a difficult math problem — and divide up some money every hour among anyone willing to certify and store those files for us on their computers.”Now, here’s what blockchain-the-metaphor is: “What if everyone keeps their records in a tamper-proof repository not owned by anyone?”An illustration of the difference: In 2006, Walmart launched a system to track its bananas and mangoes from field to store. In 2009 they abandoned it because of logistical problems getting everyone to enter the data, and in 2017 they re-launched it (to much fanfare) on blockchain. If someone comes to you with “the mango-pickers don’t like doing data entry,” “I know: let’s create a very long sequence of small files, each one containing a hash of the previous file” is a nonsense answer, but “What if everyone keeps their records in a tamper-proof repository not owned by anyone?” at least addresses the right question!Blockchain-based trustworthiness falls apart in practicePeople treat blockchain as a “futuristic integrity wand”—wave a blockchain at the problem, and suddenly your data will be valid. For almost anything people want to be valid, blockchain has been proposed as a solution....MUCH MORE
Okay, he also writes well. I believe I shall purloin “futuristic integrity wand” and see if I can re-purpose it.