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Archive

How to Ride A Trojan Horse. Cryptocurrencies and The Nature of Systems.

Our friends at Coincentral have a new article on 7 of the biggest mistakes ever made with cryptocurrencies. It’s by David Hamilton and you can read it here: https://coincentral.com/7-biggest-bitcoin-mistakes/

Hamilton reviews several cases where cryptocurrencies were sent to the wrong place, or where systems were hacked.

These examples highlight the intrinsic dangers with cryptocurrencies. In a sense, it’s as if the very nature of the form had a built in Trojan Horse. As Hamilton explains:

“It was once said, a dumb person doesn’t learn from their mistakes, a smart person learns from their mistakes, and a genius learns from other people’s mistakes. This age-old saying rings ever true in the crypto market. Nobody’s perfect, and your Bitcoin mistakes can end up costing you big time. There are no refunds or take-backs on the BTC blockchain.”

Of course given the current state of America’s politics it is indeed a truism that nobody’s perfect but any reasonable person would at this point be suspicious of the notion that anyone is learning from previous mistakes. In fact what seems to be the case is that mistakes are being made and people are getting in line for seconds and thirds.

But it’s not as if mistakes and a failure to learn are recent issues. There’s a reason “Trojan Horse” is a concept that has endured for thousands of years.

There’s a distinction being made that needs to be addressed. People speak of Blockchain and cryptocurrencies as systems that are distinct from the system that created them – human beings. And that’s the problem. “The system” has a bug in its OS. Human consciousness is extraordinary. It produces Jazz and Quantum Mechanics; New York Cheesecake and Samurai Movies. It also produces a string of catastrophes and mistakes and it does so consistently.

As Hamilton says in his conclusion:

“In the end, all of these incidents could have been avoided had the individuals involved chosen to follow a stricter protocol when dealing with their crypto. The immutable and unalterable nature of blockchain technology makes it perfect for most financial tasks. However, these same strengths can also become weaknesses when combined with human error and lackadaisical business practices”

He’s not wrong but, he’s not exactly accurate. It’s true that the incidents could have been avoided had the individuals followed a stricter protocol. For example had the Trojans believed Cassandra they could have outlasted the Greeks but instead they gave their crypto key to the wrong address and the recipients stole their coins. And slaughtered them and took their women and children and sold them off as slaves.

And while that’s probably not going to happen to you because you sent your coins to the wrong address it does speak to a crucial point. “The immutable and unalterable nature of blockchain technology makes it perfect for most financial tasks.” So does not trusting Greeks bearing gifts in the shape of a giant horse inside of which are commandos who are going to destroy you.

The system is not blockchain. Blockchain is a tool and the hammer and the nail and the axe and the car and the airliner are all only as infallible as the system. And the system of course is that strange contraption that produces jazz and concentration camps; Fender Stratocasters and germ warfare.

Mark the distinction and keep an eye on that horse.

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