Bitcoin is creating a whole new set of problems

Wednesday, 17 October, Year 4 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

MrTiggr We d0xed one of the recent scammers in -otc that way. Funny how scammers run with tail between legs when you deliver d0x like that to them.
mircea_popescu Turned out he was 14 ?

MrTiggr 18 :P Living at home in mum's basement.
mircea_popescu Myeah. Big part of the problem is that very normal development of teenagers -> scamming. They do this normally in their friend circle, talking shit and strutting. But on the Internet... it has worse consequences.

Here's the story : striplings of all times and places employ two basic coming-of-age strategies. In rural comunities the strategy consists of a. pretending (completely unwarrantedly) to be equal in all respects to anyone in sight and b. pretending (completely unwarrantedly) to have a comparative advantage to those present with regards to the subject at hand. In urban communities the strategy consists of a. pretending (completely unwarrantedly) to be equal in all respects to anyone in sight and b. pretending (completely unwarrantedly) to have a comparative advantage to those present with regards to the subject at hand.

It really is that invariant. The exact implementation may vary, obviously (for instance in a rural community, where the costs of verifying information are small and outside pressures are also limited, the stripling might leave his original community and join a new one strictly for the benefit of being practically anonymous ; whereas in urban communities, where the costs of verifying information are significant and outside pressures are also significant the striplings will form little groups that in modern terminology would be called circlejerks but really much predated the Internet in both form and functioni) but the two prongs remain unchanged : denial of the superiority of the outside, no matter how clearly baseless, no matter how utterly unjustified ; assertion of the superiority of the inside, no matter how ridiculous or untenable.

The species is deeply constructed to work this way, mostly because people are disposable carriers of random genetic material. The force that pushes them isn't just merely disinterested in their own personal welfare, it is quite contrarily interested in ensuring their general failure. It's after all how selection works, if the vast majority of young ones don't fail there's no practical way for the superior to be selected and for evolution to occur, nor is there indeed any incentive whatsoever to even manifest superiority. And so year after year the fish are hounded by unseen will through the very place of most dangerii and just like the fish so are people (well not really people, just people-to-be).

I have had the pleasure so far to try and teach philosophy to 19 year old impudent cockletsiii who thought they knew it not only better than me, but certainly better than the various dead people therein named ; to run the most widely read blog in a tiny language space and interact with literally thousands of tweens who honestly thought that they were equal to me except in those parts I was clearly wrong ; to visit Egypt with an older, white woman (which happens to be the ideal-in-life of the socially marginal and completely despised male youth there) and enjoy the desperate attempts of the unwashed, galabeya-clad multitudes to show how we're really equal, except how they're really better and in fact the list could keep on for thousands of pages. Come to think of it, it's well known that domestic animals of pretty much any kind see their caretaker as a same-species creature, of the same sex and roughly the same age. Equal, as it were.

From the other end of the spectrum, Bitcoins make everything easy. They make transactions very easy, they make breaking promises very easy. Mix these two together and what do you get ? Well now that all depends. If you know enough about the cultural context you get lolcows. If you don't, you get scammed. You enter into "insurance agreements" with Ito calculus experts who've just heard of it five minutes ago ; you entrust your money to security experts who know all about bcrypt, that "best solution on the market"iv ; you "invest" in entrepreneurs who have business plans that are secret and so on and so forth.

This problem is currently - at least in my eyes - the largest issue plaguing Bitcoin. On one hand, its fascinating ease of use is possibly its greatest asset. On the other hand, kids' ease in disregarding reality and highly esteeming themselves may not be their greatest asset, but it is statistically and from a species point of view their only utility. Neither can reasonably be made to go away, neither can sanely be dispensed of, and yet their contact creates a huge problem.

As far as I can see there are no solutions. Mounting barriers to entry is not only ideologically indigest to Bitcoin people, but it is really just a way of trying to solve the problem by making Bitcoin less easy to use. This is nonsense, why blunt advantges ? Another possible solution might come in the shape of a cultural shift from the urban to the rural mentality. Information is in fact very cheap to verify, outside pressure is in fact minimal. The fact that most people live their daily life in an urban setting does not make the Internet any less rural. Amusingly enough, the first step towards implementing something like this is possibly the renounciation of anonimity, which at least in the eyes of the superficial is the main asset of Bitcoinv.

I'm curious how the practical solution will eventually look, but I'm pretty sure this problem is going to be plaguing us pretty much forever from now on.

———
  1. Have you seen A Bronx Tale ? What do you think that is ? []
  2. You know about the Scania market, right ? []
  3. Yeah, already on the defensive, aren't we ? Why, may I ask, if it's not at all true ? []
  4. Fun fact : MtGox only learned about it after leaking its entire userbase, tens of thousands of email + md5'd password pairs. []
  5. I do not share this opinion. The availability of anonimity is a great asset, but the indiscriminate use of it is really much akin to going anywhere with a loaded machine gun, all 30 kgs of oily metal goodness. Like for instance, shopping. You carry 30 kgs of gun there, buy half a kilogram of apples and trot back, cause you really can't carry any more. []
Category: Bitcoin
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6 Responses

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