Vlad Zamfir who is one of the founders of Ethereum and its lead developer has recently published an article titled: “Blockchains Considered (Potentially) Harmful”.
I believe that the potential dangers of the blockchain, outlined in Vlad Zamfir’s article are exaggerated and contradictory.
I’ll try to provide a different point of view, different from the opinion of Vlad Zamfir.
Is blockchain technology really dangerous as the traditional and government backed media promotes it?
Absolutely rightly mentioning the impossibility of censoring information in the Blockchain, Vlad somehow tries to divide the censorship into useful censorship and bad censorship:
On the other hand, censorship is actually important for preventing many forms of online abuse.
But this is exactly where the contradiction appears. There is no good and bad censorship. There is only one kind of censorship. Censorship is always imposed with the help of violence, using methods which individual authors cannot prevent or oppose. It does not matter who acts as a censor – a global corporation, for example, Facebook, or the government. In any case, censorship is the arbitrariness of the person who makes the final decision.
Let’s be frank, censorship cannot prevent any events, it can only hide or limit information. And any restriction of information is an intervention on freedom.
Assuming that censorship will prevent the spread of some information, we thereby deny people the freedom of reasoning, that is, we, a priori, believe that people do not have the ability to reason intelligently and be responsible for their actions. But at the same time, supporters of censors forget that the censor is also a person and will be guided by his own moral principles. Thus, defending any kind of censorship, we give some person the power to decide what is moral and what is not.
Next, the author provides an example with a photo:
For example, imagine if you were unable to un-tag yourself from an embarrassing photo that someone posted to Facebook without your consent.
But the censorship cannot remove from history that event – when the photo was taken, nor can it destroy the photo itself. If you follow this path to the end, then you should not just delete the file from the Facebook database, but also remove all participants of the event. And yet it will still remain in their memory.
And now for the:
The right to be forgotten, which allows people to stop their personal information from being searchable.
Who could ever come up with the idea that someone has such a right? Adoption of new privacy laws does not remove already happened events. We live among people. Any action of ours directly or indirectly affects others. Demanding the right to be forgotten, we essentially demand that everyone around us also forget, never speak or write about something they saw or heard. This is an interference into basic human rights – freedom of speech and thought.
Everyone should be responsible for his or her decisions and actions. If you want to stop the distribution of information about you – initially do not be the cause of such information. If you act and talk without preliminary reflections, accept the fact that the blockchain keeps everything.
In this part of the article Vlad Zamfir tries to take care of the government:
On the other hand, the same financial freedom can pose critical threats to a government’s ability to enforce its policy goals. Goals like tax collection, enforcing capital controls, and preventing terrorism financing may be challenged by the possible success of blockchain technology.
Correct me if I am wrong but I was always thinking that introducing the blockchain technology we are trying to get rid of all intermediaries, including the centralized government. The author’s concern about how the state will collect taxes is amazing.
It is assumed that weaning some of the money from those who earned them (taxes) is simple for execution now. And when new technology that makes it difficult for the government to interfere in the lives of its citizens, including making it impossible to use force to collect taxes – poor little government begins to play the role of a victim.
Right now, does the government often consult with taxpayers, how exactly to spend our money?
Let’s look at this problem from the other side. In the event that the forcible tax collection will not be possible, the government will have to try very hard to raise the right amount for its needs, which means that it will have to publicly answer a lot of unpleasant questions from opponents. In case the goal seems worthy to the people, then the government will easily collect the necessary amount by the Crowd Funding method.
Using the blockchain technology to collect money by the government will make it impossible to endlessly inflate the bureaucratic apparatus. At the same time, it will make healthy completion possible, since there will always be a private company that will happily provide any service to people if this is backed up by appropriate financing. Intuition tells me that a private company will do any work cheaper and better than any government, particularly in countries with less developed democracies.
Prevention of the financing of terrorism
Has someone wondered how well this works now? Our life becomes more complicated for doing business, traveling, communication – because governments interfere in everyday life under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Did all those measures really hinder the terrorist attacks?
New kinds of organizations trailing blockchain technology
But this new technology may also enable organizations with nefarious goals. Cyber criminals who infect their victim’s computers with ransomware are able to accept ransom payments without fear of having their accounts shut down or their payments reverted, thanks to the blockchain.
I have a question: “How did the lack of the blockchain interfere with the existence of organized crime so far?”
A kitchen knife can be a tool for cooking, and can also become a murder tool. It depends not on the knife, but on the one who holds it in his hands and his purposes. The same can be said about any technology: nuclear energy, electricity, mobile communications, the Internet, social networks, drones.
Blockchain creates plenty of great opportunities for the world to be more secure. For example, the creation of private law enforcement structures, which will be financed directly by consumers. They will compete among themselves. They will not depend on borders and governments. Blockchain allows us to create an open organization, independent of the borders to search for missing people, stolen property, etc. Such organizations do not require licenses or permits from governments, they do not depend on the authorities. Their activities are regulated solely by consumers. The most uncomfortable questions
I have other questions related to the development of blockchain technologies:
Is there any future for banks? Now the bank is an intermediary who verifies the identity, guarantees transactions, carries out payments, issues loans. What will remain of the banks when the blockchain technology becomes ubiquitous? I do not see banks in the future world.
What will happen to national currencies? Already now, having several Bitcoins, I have no reasons to worry in almost any country in the world. I will always find a local who will gladly exchange Bitcoins for local currency. Already now crypto-currencies do not depend on the country, the central bank or the government. Lots of business accept Bitcoins already now. Sooner or later the question will arise: “Why do I need different currencies if I can buy goods and services without an exchange?”
And again, the most important question: “Do we really need a government?” Now the strength of the government lies in the security guarantees of execution of transactions. For this, in addition to the power component, governments monopolized various registries and databases. With the wide adoption of the blockchain, an unlimited number of DAOs will be able to deal with all those situations monopolized by the government at the moment, not only in terms of voting but also in terms of funding.