Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute at UC Berkeley. Weaver teaches a course on blockchains and seems to think the technology is, at best, misguided and, at worst, a fraud.
There are private blockchains, which is a 20-year-old technology that somehow causes idiots to throw money at it, and then you have public blockchains, which is supposed to be a decentralized record-keeping structure but, in reality, is both centralized and horribly inefficient. The use of private blockchains is pretty varied because there’s nothing new and it’s an old idea. The use of public blockchains is basically limited to cryptocurrencies.
None of the cryptocurrencies are truly decentralized. They’re actually centrally controlled by the miners, who can basically rewrite history at will… These systems require an obscene amount of energy to function. And the blockchains are not decentralized and they’re not efficient, so that undercuts the two main points in their favor. But the cryptocurrencies don’t work either, because they don’t actually work as currencies.
The rationale for these things is that there’s no central authority, which means no one can block or undo a transaction. And so far at least, it’s true that transactions aren’t blocked. But why do you need such a system? Because you’re doing a transaction that a central authority would otherwise block, like paying off a hitman or buying drugs…If that’s what you need money for, the cryptocurrencies are the only game in town. But if you don’t need to buy drugs or hitmen, the cryptocurrencies are vastly less efficient…if you want to buy something you don’t want people to know about, you can just use a pre-paid credit card. There’s still no need for Bitcoin.
Eulogy made by Nicholas Weaver