Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), tradable digital certificates that verify ownership of digital assets using blockchain technology, have dominated headlines in the last several months. The media mania hit a high with the $69 million sale of Beeple’s Everydays:The First 5000 Days. A few months after Beeple’s historic sale at Christie’s auction house, the crypo-art bubble has officially burst.
These sorts of things are a bit too volatile for me to cheer just yet. The blockchain bubble is something I look at and say, this is incredibly dumb. The whole premise of it makes zero sense: you’re wasting resources (and don’t get me started on Chia, the grim reaper for residential SSDs) for nothing. The end product has extremely little to no subjective value—how much would you pay for blockchain outputs?—but burns up resources in the form of energy, increased prices for computer components, and time that could have been spent doing something more productive, like repeatedly turning your computer off and on again: at least there, you gain valuable skills in figuring out how to power down and power up a machine.
I can kinda-sorta get the idea of using blockchain for certain types of auditing trails, but there are still two big problems with it. First is the 50% problem: whoever controls 50% of the compute controls the past, present, and future of the blockchain and can make whatever arbitrary changes are desired. Beyond that, the other problem is, how much better is this than a digest hash of activities written to a WORM drive? Considering how many orders of magnitude less expensive the latter is to the former, there has to be an enormous benefit for it to make any sense. And there’s really not.