Feudalistic Threats to Web 3.0

When I’m asked to explain Web 3.0 I always try to start by explaining that the world is far more diverse than just coins and financial assets.

This is similar to my old saw about history being more detailed than just who won what war and why. Culture is not just coinage.

The entirety of the human experience, which arguably will be predominantly expressed via the web if anywhere in technology, is vast and rich beyond monetary action. Only about half of transactions even involve money at all.

Yet, for many people their only topic of interest or focus on technology is how to capitalize as quickly as possible on anything “new”. Beware their depictions of the Web solely as finance instead of encompassing our most rich and interesting possibilities.

Geolocation data, as just one facet, has long been recognized as a source of power and authority. Think of it in holistic terms of the English and Dutch cracking the secretive Portuguese spice trade routes and upending global power, instead of just focusing on the spices being traded.

Knowledge is a form of power, which have been expressed as political systems far more vast than markets alone could ever encompass.

Here is an example to illustrate how oversimplification of humanity down to financial terms becomes an ethical quagmire, highlighting some very important mistakes of the past.

Ukraine cancelled a Crypto airdrop.

…“a lot of people” were abusing the possibility of an airdrop by sending minuscule donations “just to benefit” themselves. This is a common tactic among crypto investors, known as airdrop farming.

Farming is in fact the opposite of what is described here. Growing food at low margin so that others may gain has somehow been framed backwards: extraction of value from someone else’s plan to help others.

In other words “airdrop farming” is far more like “airdrop banking” as it has nothing in common with farms but a lot in common with banks. It begs a question why there there was any direct return and benefit of “donations”, given what has been said in past about that loop.

Appropriation of the term “farming” in this context thus reads to me as propaganda; we may as well be in a discussion of Molotov’s WWII bombs as a delivery of bread baskets.

Likewise in the same story Kraken’s CEO displayed complete ignorance by saying his company would be on the side of Russia in this war and could not help Ukraine because in his mind political Bitcoin only has “libertarian values”.

Exchanges including Coinbase, Binance, KuCoin, and Kraken all refused Fedorov’s February public request that they freeze all Russian accounts, not just those that were legally required by recently-imposed sanctions. The companies said such an action would hurt peaceful Russian citizens and go against Bitcoin’s “libertarian values,” as Kraken CEO Jesse Powell put it.

Calling Bitcoin libertarian is like calling diamonds bloody.

In fact, Bitcoin is notoriously slow-moving (terrible for payments) and notoriously volatile (terrible for currency) just like blood diamonds being extracted from dirt at artificially low cost to artificially inflate their value to a very small group desperate for power.

Mining doesn’t have to be an exercise in oppressive asset hoarding with a total disdain for the value of human life, but Kraken clearly displays here they operate intentionally to repeat the worst thinking in history.

So what values are we talking about really? Proportionality (tailoring response to the level of the attack, avoiding collateral impact) is not a libertarian concept, obviously, because its a form of regulation (let alone morality).

Note instead there is complete lack of care for victims of aggression on the principle of protecting “peaceful” among aggressors, with absolutely no effort to prove such a principle.

It’s sloppy and exactly backwards for a Bitcoin CEO to claim he cares about impacting others. The inherent negative-externality of Bitcoin means it carries a high cost someone else has to pay, proving that if Kraken cared about “peaceful” Russian civilians it would shutdown all Bitcoin since it harms them all while benefiting few if any.

Systemically redistributing transaction costs from selfish individuals to society instead, while claiming to be worried about societal impact of an individual action is… dangerously reminiscent of “nobles” and “clergy” of pre-revolutionary France who ignorantly stumbled into their own demise.

The Web already is so much more than a narrow line of thought from the ugly past of feudal thinking, and 3.0 should be more broadly representative of the human condition instead of boxed in like this by selfish speculators trying to get rich quick through exploitation and manipulation of artificially constrained assets.

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