What are ways a public blockchain can be abused by centralized actors (e.g. govts)?


Context: https://twitter.com/wheatpond/status/1072964119911956482?s=20

Dan argues that an immutable ledger can be used to further totalitarian agendas. He says:

I just don’t see how (even if limited to currencies) the government or other powerful entities wouldn’t be able to exploit the exact same features in furtherance of their agendas.

Crypto is building the automated infrastructure for ai-enhanced ultra elites to interface with and manipulate the economy and society in previously incomprehensibly minute way

Agree? Disagree?


The first thing that comes to mind is Digital Fiat Currency issued by Central Bank or Governments. For example, Petro by the Govt of Venezuela. Keeping aside the argument about whether Petro is real or not, I don’t see much value add. Central banks controls money supply now and it will have the same negative implications when it does so digitally.


When it comes to “ai-enhanced ultra entities” it reminds me of the viewpoint Elon Musk presents in his interview with Joe Rogan: https://youtu.be/ycPr5-27vSI

My interpretation is that he is deeply concerned about what this could mean for humanity, but feels compelled to do as much as possible to optimise the outcome so we don’t end up in a situation where “the robots take over”.

There is a body of research around AI Saftey I’m yet to immerse myself into

source: https://80000hours.org/ai-safety-syllabus/#reading-list



I come at this with no context/background, I don’t know Eric Wheatpond nor Dan, and it honestly gives me a little bit of a headache as I read his high makamaka binary conclusions with lack of examples. (I suppose that is why you asked from some examples-- I’d like to see them too, and sorry I am falling into the same company by not including examples of ways a “public blockchain can be abused by central actors”.) Apologies.

Forgive my ignorance but how is this not the classic question of is technology good or evil? With the apropos answer that it is neither, it depends on who’s in control of it.

The claim you linked to from Eric Wheatpond on twitter states:

cryptocurrency is the only one that is a force for individual freedom in the face of government oppression

This kid is probably under 25 years old having yet to learn to “eliminate absolutes like the only one, always and never from your vocabulary”. (Please get that I am teasing about his age-- kidding sort of, as a 40+ year old, having been served my fair share of humble pie and learning that lesson well)…

Back to the point, his statement is easily refuted with his examples of drones. He states, and I agree:

Drones, AI, etc. are all massive enablers of surveillance and control.

But drones, in the right hands, are tools capable of serving the opposition to “enablers of surveillance and control”. At Standing Rock, drones time and time again revealed the transgressions by the oil-pipeline company. Drone Activism served to rally the community and put the corporation on their heals by presenting the truth.

Technology is as human as are humans, enabling whomever has got it to their intended goal. Likely the public blockchain follows suit, neither good nor evil, but your question still stands, can we get some examples of how it is going to be abused by centralized actors like the gov’t?


@gabecolors thank you for this. I appreciate your point about using absolutes like only. You also did a wonderful job of refuting his claims about Drones. If this claim about drones was made on TruStory, we can falsify and Reject it based on the example you provided.

Thank you for your balanced argument with evidence.