Cryptno: the moral failings of cryptocurrencies and allied tech

Either, one is completely ignored Buddha teaching or one haven’t heard his deep teaching on many Sutta such as SN 56.11.

Avoiding these two extremes, the Realized One woke up by understanding the middle way of practice, which gives vision and knowledge, and leads to peace, direct knowledge, awakening, and extinguishment.

Or one haven’t heard about brahma vihara of Upekkha (selfless Equanimity).

The middle way is not the way of non-judgment. Also, equanimity, by its very definition, has nothing to do with being non-judgmental. This is actually a central issue with western Buddhism—the evolution of this non-judgmental ideology, and how neatly it fits into the neoliberal capitalist agenda. I would be happy to open this topic up into an actual thread to be discussed.

I have never read one line of the suttas that explicitly states one should be non-judgmental. I have personally heard Bhikkhu Bodhi and Thanissaro Bhikkhu both criticize this idea. Even the popular “non-judgmental awareness” definition of mindfulness is not accurate and has been criticized many times.

Once again, I am happy to open this discussion up for others and am welcomed to be schooled on this, but the whole non-judgmental thing is at its core an oxymoron, I don’t understand how logically that can be contested.

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How about 13

13 Reasons People Think Crypto Investing is a Bad Idea | FinanceBuzz

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Thank you Javier, but I hesitate for a moment.
Thirteen is such an unlucky number :slight_smile:

If we would ask Cordelia,
she might go for 13 reasons.
But 12 reasons are more what I’m aiming for.

Due the the distributed nature, Blockchain is a wasteful and slow technology compared to a centralised server used by credit cards company.

It cannot be used in the current form for everyday transactions. It is not economical and too slow to handle the enormous volume of transactions.

I talked to an Economist fairly recently, and he pointed out that a cryptocurrency does not necessarily need to use a blockchain. Just saying. Digital payments, etc can also happen without these gruelling, wasteful, “proof-of-work” algorithms.

There’s a billion different ways to do online payments and online currency exchange which are possible. We’re just at the very beginning of sorting out which systems will and won’t work, long-term (as they get eventually tested by every kind of crook, fraudster, grifter, etc.)

Cryptography, taken alone, is not necessarily a bad thing. We all use SSL all the time, and this is a good and helpful thing.

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Cryptography is just an encryption tool that can be employed for good or bad intentions. Don’t confuse and make it synonymous with distributed ledger technology (DLT).

The proponent for distributed ledger technology (DLT) is to build trust by having a community to check and authenticate transactions without a central authority like government or big organisation.

Crypto currency is just an application of DLT. As mentioned in my post earlier, DLT by its nature, is not as fast and economical as centralised system. For a viable everyday payment solution, one will need to circumvent the situation and work with a technology that is neither centralised nor based on DLT.

DLT is more viable for transactions that are infrequent and involving huge amount of money like property or rare arts etc.

Newer generation blockchains are fast and cheap. Solana transaction is ≈ $0.00025, equivalent to 2 google searches. CHAI payment in Korea is used by millions of people. It uses LUNA blockchain that costs <1% fee, compared to 3% by VISA.

It is not merely about transaction fee. Decentralised platform make use of multiple folds of servers to mine, authenticate and store transactions compared to a centralised system.

Logically, it consumes much more precious energy as a result. Something to ponder about.

When evidence contradicts logic, maybe it’s time to learn more and update our understanding.

I was against crypto before, until I came across Solana and Luna. Sure, centralization is more efficient. And duplication is a waste. But sometimes, for some applications , it’s a worthwhile sacrifice.

For Solana energy usage Solana’s Energy Use Report: November 2021

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someone has pulled a trick on you.

Thanks for the info.

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Evidence indicates that there are many Bitcoin whales. When we buy Bitcoin, we enrich those whales. The problem isn’t blockchain technology which is great for shared ledgers. The problem is the whales. The problem is wildly disproportionate wealth.

A Bitcoin whale could buy El Salvador if they wished. They could own the Salvadorean people. THAT is the horror of Bitcoin.

I have no wish to buy into slavery.

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So, the difference between commodity / fiat scarcity, and Crypto fixed quantity is this: with one big caveat (51% attack), there is no force that can increase the supply of BTC beyond its expected cap.

Commodity money, such as the Bimetallic standard, was actually the worst at having a controlled supply. The General Crisis of the 17th century was ~75% natural disaster (the Great Dying), 75% human evil (European Imperialism), and 75% an unforeseeable supply spike in precious metals. By which I mean it was, like most things, overdetermined. South America happens to have much, much more abundant silver deposits compared to the Old World. So with the Argentine region depopulated and vulnerable (the Conquest of the Americas never could have happened like it did if new world nations were healthy at the time), Spain took that silver, and took it overseas. This allowed them to be awfully successful in war in Europe, allowed them to turn several African Societies away from better pursuits and towards a brutal slave-export based economy, and, indirectly, through purely mercantile mechanisms, brought about the fall of the Ming Dynasty and a lot of turmoil in India as successive waves of silver demonetization had a tidal-wave like effect, creating hyper-inflation in Silver-Standard China and making the Imperial Tax revenues (which were fixed in weight) grossly insufficient to cover the cost of holding society together. With commodity money, not even the state can prevent inflation, not even to save itself.

And that’s not a one-off event, just the worst in recorded history. There’s Mansa Musa’s Hajj, The US Gold Rush, and, in our future, the near-certitude of space mining and the off-chance of Seawater Gold extraction.

And, of course, I don’t think anyone needs a reminder that in Fiat Currencies the money supply can go up by printing money.

Now, circling back to the main point, the big game changer in Crypto is the ability to have truly fixed supply, even on goods that are totally non-rival. This is the Web3 dream. A creator makes something that be copied at near-0 cost - but if they leave it that way, they don’t get to capture much of the value as income. So they put it behind a gate, just like they did in Web2 (user-submitted content sites, like YouTube), to secure an income. But this gate is different than the gates that came before in many ways, the biggest of which is this ability to create real finitude.

Currently, this mostly doesn’t work, as all of the memes of people screenshotting other people’s NFTs show. But the dream is that Meta and Alphabet and others will keep “improving” on the systems until you really are able to produce the next great work of art, lock it behind an very high wall so that only a finite number of people will ever have access at one time, without anyone having the power to change it.

The relationship between the US Military and USD is primarily the following:

  • The US was the most-intact victor in WWII, and all throughout the war was considered the most secure involved country, which determined it’s place in the Bretton-Woods system

  • To this day, the US is generally regarded as the most secure country

  • International shipping may rely on the US maintaining peace on the seas (the first great globalization was marked by piracy levels much more significant than what we see today)

Petrodollars are just the excess USD many oil exporting countries accumulate because their net exports are higher than perceived useful opportunities for domestic consumption or investment. When you hear about Petrodollars “propping up” the USD, the credible mechanism that is primarily being referred to is the tend for oil exporting countries (chiefly Norway) establishing sovereign wealth funds with those USD, which they then use to buy US Treasuries. The reason these countries do this is because they’re a good, safe investment (in part because the US is vastly more stable than, say, Norway, which was conquered in living memory). This has a very tiny positive impact on the value of the USD, because those dollars returned to the treasury effectively “disappear” from circulation, reducing supply.

The second mechanism, less credibly talked about, is a conspiracy theory that the US forces nations to sell their exports in USD to increase USD demand. Even if this were true, it would be ineffective. The amount of USD involved in petrochemical transactions is a tiny fraction of the volume of USD demand.

All of this USD specific discussion is fairly tangential though, as, for example, AUD essentially “works” the same way as USD, and AFAIK has none of these shadows hanging over it.

Or the logic is too simple.

With most of these famed “disruptive” technologies, the truth is that they have flaws but the alternatives have flaws (chiefly those associated with monopoly or oligopoly). A blockchain technology may (I’m no expert on Solana) minimize the still real flaws with blockchain, to a point where they are simply smaller than the flaws a company like visa has tacked on to good old ACID databases.

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Tulip mania could be considered another example. People will find a way to profiteer off any currency, crypto or otherwise. Currencies change, but greed hasn’t changed much since the EBTs were written.

From the Wiki article linked to above:

Sounds somewhat familiar, even to a noob Buddhist

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[quote=“MinotaurWarrior, post:55, topic:22745, full:true”]
So, the difference between commodity / fiat scarcity, and Crypto fixed quantity is this: with one big caveat (51% attack), there is no force that can increase the supply of BTC beyond its expected cap.[/quote]

Such force is not really needed to manage the perception of scarcity and abundance (thanks for the caveat :smiley:) except through emphasizing rupa as the ultimate measure of value. Rupa can be gold, printed money or commodity, but in the increasingly digitized world we live in, it does not have as much weight as it used to be especially when basic necessities are secured for the vast majority of people. Instead, the de-facto finitude of the number of Bitcoins for instance can be postponed indefinitely by the market forces of supply and demand, and by the progressive complexity of mining as we move in time:

The Genesis Block, also known as Block 0, is the ancestor that every other bitcoin block can trace its lineage back to, since every bitcoin traces back to a past one. Nakamoto mined the original block on a CPU (as opposed to the specialized graphics cards miners now need) without any competition, since nobody even knew it existed at the time and it wasn’t worth anything anyway – at least in fiat terms. Back then, Bitcoin was more of an experiment than anything, and it would still take around a year before it started to catch on. It would be incredibly easy for current miners to solve these blocks, which were set at difficulty 1, a far cry from the current bitcoin difficulty3

The next block, known as Block 1, wasn’t mined until six days later, on Jan. 9.4 This is considered odd, as the average timestamp gap between blocks is 10 minutes. There are a few theories regarding the delay: Some have theorized that Nakamoto spent six days mining the original block to test out the Bitcoin system in order to make sure it was stable (then backdated the timestamp), while more spiritual followers believe he intended to recreate the story of God’s rest after creating the world in six days.

And, of course, I don’t think anyone needs a reminder that in Fiat Currencies the money supply can go up by printing money.

Now, circling back to the main point, the big game changer in Crypto is the ability to have truly fixed supply, even on goods that are totally non-rival. This is the Web3 dream. A creator makes something that be copied at near-0 cost - but if they leave it that way, they don’t get to capture much of the value as income. So they put it behind a gate, just like they did in Web2 (user-submitted content sites, like YouTube), to secure an income. But this gate is different than the gates that came before in many ways, the biggest of which is this ability to create real finitude.

I do not see this real finitude. The theory of supply and demand makes it impossible for all cryptos to be in supply all at once by virtue of changing hands, or ownership, or access to blockchain, whatever we want to call it. As a trend, what is happening in my view is less emphasis on solidity as a measure of value, and more emphasis on abstract as a measure. During the barter system, value was more associated with the nutritious value for the body (calories) in terms of edible commodity, or the utility of certain products in terms of saving time and energy in daily activities (still calories). The move to coins associated value with the weight of the precious metal contained in the coin, then coins became bank reserves in exchange of banknotes, then money was printed more than the reserves by observing that people do not ask to convert their banknotes all at once, then the market forces was declared as the real dynamic, then the need to associate value with paper have lessened through the use of credit cards and e-banking where ones worth is measured through a number or digits, then we have digital currencies such as cryptos, or digital Yuan or others. This is inline of the spirit of the age of saving the environment by lessening our movements and our impact on mother nature. Now we can even compensate for our impact through buying carbon credits, akin to indulgences sold by the church before the age of enlightenment.

It is worth noting that that the appearance of cryptos, particularly bitcoin, coincided with the economic crisis in late 2008. When the same institutions that are suppose to maintain value are exposed to as theives, and when governments bail out them, then people would lose faith in the centralized system. At the end of the day, they give power to governments, and they can attempt to take it away from them. The screw ups of centralized systems have been the major source of creativity through out human history with all its associated evils.

@MinotaurWarrior @Bundokji

Good discussion there.

My tiny brain couldn’t understand most of it unfortunately.

In your opinion, is crypto good or bad to an average person on a net basis?

In my opinion crypto as a whole has been net bad. It has the potential to be very bad, and also the potential to be slightly good.

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In your opinion, is fiat good or bad to an average person on a net basis?

I think the more conventional ways of earning a living are more conducive to peace of mind. I believe this is what Bhante referred to when he mentioned the human soul.

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