Blockchains and Cryptocurrencies: Burn It With Fire (Nicholas Weaver)

The entire cryptocurrency and blockchain ecology is rife with frauds, criminalities, and tulip-mania style hype and needs to be properly disposed of into the ashes …


  1. This is the information I had been looking for for a while. So much hype and obvious crypto hucksters, but not a lot of critical analysis can be found nearly as easily. Glad to have the perspective of academics

  2. In between the ridiculous cringe moments, there are some valid points, but even those are simply technological challenges subject to ongoing research and developments. The early internet (and content) was shit compared to what we have today. Things take time.

  3. Wait ..Wozniak got jacked cause someone used a stolen centralized credit card ……🤔 …. but there’s nothing wrong with the banking system …😒…so we blame bitcoin 😪

  4. ~22:00 he starts his "stablecoin" solution. Value is in our minds, reflected in our actions. Each different action, at a different place, at a different millisecond, may have different values which are reflected, even for the same person.
    Since you can't possibly predict all desires and valuations of all mankind, sorry to disappoint you, but value "stability" is impossible.

    And no, lol, "stablecoins" aren't banks o.O

  5. "Chris Caldwell 6 months ago
    no, at least when it comes to his understanding of crypto currencies, this guy is WAY off. A LOT of people have graduated from UCB, probably most of the viewers here, not all of them are competent. I mean, these are all LONG addressed concerns that just keep coming up over and over no matter how many times they are laid to rest. There is nothing novel here, nothing significant, just the fact that your tax $ has been paying him for 5 years to plagiarizer the same top 10 crypto-paranoias list you could have found in 30 seconds.

    Wasteful Energy: Yes, except that this energy is the cheapest energy around, often energy not otherwise put to use. You could, for instance, setup a massive solar / crypto farm in the middle of Nevada, you could not setup a solar farm in NV and have a meaningful feed of it into the grid (Reno / Vegas aside). It makes use of dead space, overflow, etc because that is what is cheapest. And, btw, how much energy is consumed for fiat currency security? We are talking printing, guarding, shipping, countless buildings full of people verifying ledgers and transactions, etc etc. The cost of fiat is dumbfounding.

    The Challenge: *Challenge Accepted*. Mine BTC, get BTC. You did not have to have $1500 in hand, nor transfer to an individual, nor have a pre-existing relationship with an exchange. Boy, that was hard, I can see what you have been doing for 5 years. Oh, wait, you said "buy", so assuming you extend the $1500 in-hand to other currencies, goods and services, no, you cant "buy" something without paying for it. And how would you buy $1500 USD without: having $1500 of goods in hand, transferring goods or performing a service to an individual, or having a relationship with a bank? How is this a meaningful challenge? What's the point here?

    Everything electronic is reversible to mitigate fraud: That doesn't mitigate fraud, it defaults to a side in an argument. You nullify your own point when you bring up the credit card fraud against Woz. All stores lose a massive amount to fraud every year. If you someone steals your CC and buys a computer from with it, YOU wont have to pay for the fraud, but NewEgg will. Its no different with crypto, its just introducing a new set of inexperienced merchants to the existing world of electronic fraud. If you simply say to paypal "I didnt purchase that" there will be no investigation, no follow up. You will get your $ back and the merchant, whether they sold you bitcoin or a pair of shoes, is SOL. Bitcoin, like cash, simply takes the opposite side (which is often preferable). This is one reason many online merchants REALLY prefer to take payment in BTC. They can do away with the substantial loss to fraud, or fraudulent fraud, while the customers have a system far more secure than credit cards. This, like many of your points, is not a negative. You just dont understand it.

    No central authority to say…: That's not really the big sell of BTC as a currency. It's not that you can buy weed with it, its that:

    There is no central authority to inflate and otherwise control it. <- thats the main argument for decentralized crypto-currency

    There is nobody tracking your every charge. Yeah, in many circumstances there are ways to trace it if you want to bad enough (and throw enough $ at it), but surveillance, political corruption, and use of any and all available personal information for political suppression / manipulation are common place these days. From Facebook conducting studies on influencing voter turn out in targeted fashion to online censorship of conservatives, hiring / promotional discrimination , targeted abuse by government bodies like the IRS, etc etc. I understand this may seem overblown to someone suckling at the teat of authoritarianism, but to many others it is very real. "If you're not a criminal you have nothing to hide" argument has never been a valid argument for a surveillance state. Coinbase got a lot of criticism because when using them as an off-chain payment system (ie a bank), they have very strict policies regarding, among other spending actions, making a BTC payment from your coinbase wallet for porn, online gambling, etc

    But this enables…: Yup, Freedom makes the criminals free to. But kicking the governments out of the currency in no way means they are unable to or not allowed to investigate and prosecute criminals. Buying a missile online is still illegal. If the justice system is unable to track down drug smugglers, human traffickers and former soviet arms without having a 100% monopoly on currency and a global surveillance system to monitor all economic activate domestic and abroad then how the hell can you think they would be able to secure the system they use to do all that? BTW, the single most used currency in the world used to facilitate EVERY type of crime is the USD by far, and not just by small time criminals, but the central authority for USD itself. The very organization you want in control of your currency uses that control to fund countless human atrocities both domestic and abroad. In fact, most of it could not be done without that control. So, bottom line is, you are wrong. That central authority enables WAY more criminal activities than a decentralized one ever could.

    Volatility etc: I think it is much more likely that the volatility is a product of the small market and the growth is due to the fact that it HAS to grow in value to be adopted as the value is not only increased with higher adoption, but required for it to be useful in larger economies. That said, I dont know. And neither do you. The simple fact is that we have never seen a currency organically adopted like this so we have no idea what is "normal" and when / what will happen as it grows. I can argue that larger markets create stability, you can argue that it cant grow because its unstable, its all just BS unfit for a lecture on this platform. The idea that all transactions must be converted to, then from crypto is absurd. It is common place to do so but that is just because cryptocurrencies are not the default currency yet. As it is adopted further, you could easily make the opposite argument. You absolutely CAN use it effectively for remittance, I have done it personally. Finally, HODL is an investment strategy. The idea that you would be upset for having bought a pizza with BTC 5 years ago is also absurd. I have bought plenty with BTC through the years and dont regret it. Its a value store. I also have some BTC as an investment. The two are not mutually exclusive. And the idea that deflationary currencies cant work is also wrong. Even the USD was once deflationary for a period, the world did not fall apart. Deflationary currencies, within a reasonable range, are generally a very good thing in a free market. You know whats bad for an economy? your currency losing 96% of its value.

    If a phd student cant secure a wallet…: Then your phd student is either an idiot or a novice at cryptocurrencies. Or, as you actually mentioned, you DELIBERATELY SET IT UP INSECURELY TO BE STOLEN. Honestly, if you are going to install your own wallet on a computer and get your balance stolen by malware you have to willfully ignore widespread warnings on how NOT to do it, take none of the precautions listed by the very wallet you're using, and not use any of the hardware wallets that have been around for half a decade. These systems were designed to be used on plague-level infested systems, over wide open lines, and still provide security.

    Honestly, I'm getting tired here. There is so much more wrong with this presentation, the idea that an initial surge of minor variant clones in a new and booming industry is either unusual or a negative, your claims that blowing up cryptocurrencies is simple and cheap, despite nobody ever having done so in the face of MASSIVE and well funded opposition, etc etc. Overall, not a great video to come out of the School of Information. But, about what is expected from one of the country's largest pro-authoritarianism lefty-havens. "

  6. This is what it looks like to me: someone who tells you Bitcoin is great creates an ICO to sell you their Bitcoin in exchange for your REAL money. So if those guys are so smart, and if Bitcoin is so great, why don't they get or buy Bitcoin instead of SELLING YOU Bitcoin for your REAL (but less sexy?) money? It looks like the people hyping Bitcoin the most are the ones SELLING it, and not investing in it at all. And of course the buyers of Bitcoin hype it in hopes that its value will rise…so they can eventually sell it BACK to get REAL money back so they can actually BUY something.

  7. This presentation will age very horribly with time, and Nicholas Weaver will go down in history as a man with little vision — just like those who have famously said "electricity is just a fad", or "I see no need for more than two or three computers worldwide", or that "the internet would never scale to support email", etc etc. Don't waste 50 minutes of your time with this garbage folks, read an Andreas Antonopolous book if you really want to learn about why Bitcoin will succeed. I recommend "The Internet of Money", volume 1. He's made it available for free online.

  8. Berkeley really? This guy bring conspiracy in an academic talk? WTF! Most of what is say was said in 2009 when bitcoin was released on the mailing list, some are even in the original paper. Still bitcoin was the first solution to an hard problem of consensus on a distributed system. This professor should not be one.

  9. I'm critical of blockchain hype too, but he lost credibility at '[it] involves intense crypto magic that gives me a splitting headache and I'm not going to explain.' That's as bad as the hucksters who can't put more than buzzwords on a splash page. There is novelty in some of the cryptography and p2p surrounding 'blockchain technology' at least.

  10. Highly biased opinionated presentation. Drugs are bought with fiat cash currency and other types of collectibles and precious metals on a daily basis. Central Banking system has been laundering money for hundreds of years, many got bailed out. Criminals and hitmen would rather deal in cash than cryptocurrency, go lookup case law on hired hitman and you'll find 30 to 1 sting operations where money is wired or cash on delivery. Do more research, more bank accounts are compromised on a daily basis than cryptocurrency wallets. More banks have been robbed than crypto wallets have been compromised. Bitcoin is more valuable than fiat cash and will always be more valuable than planetary resources. The universe is filled with untapped resources, however, you will not find these cryptocurrencies, tokens and utilities outside of the milky way galaxy.

  11. I came to this video looking for additional insight into some of the well known problems facing block chain technology. As a programmer with a firm understanding of cryptography and distributed databases this lecture left me bitterly disappointed. Listening to this "professor" try to explain how crypto currencies work made me cringe. The analogies he used and his overall understanding of cryptography and block chain technology is amateur at best. I would highly recommend that anyone with a strong understanding of this subject matter to avoid watching this video as it will only serve to frustrate you. I'm truly amazed that this man can call himself a professor as he seems utterly incapable of understanding and explaining complex systems.

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