crypto-anarchy goes mainstream
June 15, 2017 12:51 PM   Subscribe

 
Crypto-anarchists use tabs.
posted by GuyZero at 12:55 PM on June 15 [18 favorites]


Thank you,GuyZ, first full out belly lol I've had in ages!
posted by sammyo at 1:00 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


"Police forces complain they can't keep up with up with new forms of online crime."

We are all good Samaritans now.
posted by clavdivs at 1:14 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


A representative from something called “Bitnation” explained to Parallel Polis how an entire nation could one day be provided online via an uncontrollable, uncensorable digital network, where groups of citizens could club together to privately commission public services. Bitnation’s founder, Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, hopes Bitnation could one day replace the nation state and rid us of bureaucrats, creating “a world of a million competing digital nations”, as she later told me.

lol-geography. One of my big issues with crypto anarchists is that they think they can transcend the material. We ain't there yet. You can build your digital nation on a thousand blockchains, but those blockchains reside on computers, which are located in distinct geographical coordinates. The Chinese government could snap its fingers and half the computing power of the bitcoin blockchain would evaporate. Maybe someday we won't have to rely on geographical based governments for things like electricity, communications, and transportation, but it's not today.

But coding will probably be one of the first jobs to be automated out of existence

Suuuuuure. No one has ever promised that. Millions have already been spent on trying to get rid of the very expensive, wily computer programmer. I'm not saying it can't be done, but many have tried.

That decentralising force is sweeping through society and economies and the affects are difficult to predict. The most fun to be had at Parallel Polis was guessing which industries would be “Ubered” next – that is, transformed into a peer-to-peer industry conducted on an app.

Uber is a terrible business. It loses money hand over fist, and underpays its workers. It is a subsidy from impoverished freelancers and silicon valley venture capitalists to everyone else. The people actually making money in tech are the giant centralized companies, Google, Facebook, Amazon. Without the illegality of drugs, no one would using block chain technologies and the dark web to order them. They would be Prime Now'ing themselves an ounce of Purple Pineapple and a box of Oreos.

I've just seen these predictions of digital decentralization for decades and nothing has come of it.
posted by zabuni at 1:23 PM on June 15 [27 favorites]


"Police forces complain they can't keep up with up with new forms of online crime."

They told me the same thing 10 years ago when someone swiped my credit card.
posted by lagomorphius at 1:31 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


20 mins more and I can chime in as the OP to sigh deeply and thank the infinite spark of the eternal bliss for metafilter and sanity...
posted by infini at 1:33 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


Uber is a terrible business.

Uber and the like are the modern day patent medicine cons, and anyone who looks to them as a model is conning or deluded.
posted by bongo_x at 1:38 PM on June 15 [7 favorites]


as machine intelligence and a rising tech elite radically restructure life as we know it

Season 3 of Mr. Robot is going to be lit!!
posted by Fizz at 1:40 PM on June 15 [7 favorites]


But my Czech currency, koruna, which I had dutifully exchanged at the airport at near criminal rates, was not accepted. “We only take bitcoin,” said the assistant. Parallel Polis is the one place in the world that accepts only bitcoin...Given a bitcoin was worth around £300 back then, and is now trading at close to £2,000, my cup of coffee cost approximately £25 in today’s money. Some of the staff have probably now retired.

Yes, and are happily spending their non bitcoin real money on capitalist luxuries.

I honestly couldn't get through all this because I was having flashbacks to old Wired articles.
posted by bongo_x at 1:45 PM on June 15 [19 favorites]


how an entire nation could one day be provided online via an uncontrollable, uncensorable digital network

I've surfed onto the business channels (cnbc?) a few times recently. During what looked like a downturn you could see the stress the this could be the big one but not a word other than positive suggestions of a rebound. And another time quite a serious discussion of bitcoin. The financial folks are taking it quite seriously.

In the article those guys had a really cool "clubhouse". Very likely making money as some form of co-working, rent a desk place. But I expect as much as bitcoin is used extensively a chunk is converted to euros to pay the rent.

There certainly seem to be large swaths of middle men, useless if automated, but the great experiments in socialism, while they didn't have powerful computers, seemed to make a lot of questionable choices. Just because there's a cool web interface does not imply good social policy.
posted by sammyo at 1:48 PM on June 15


replace the nation state and rid us of bureaucrats

How does this work ? Say my neighbor wants to build a garage right on my property line. How is that adjudicated ? Who does the inspections to make sure it is safe ? Who makes sure that the plumbing isn't backfilling into the city water supply ?

You can't have a society without administration, and you can't have administration without bureaucracy. You can't even run a web forum without it, let alone a nation/state.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:51 PM on June 15 [47 favorites]


Who makes sure that the plumbing isn't backfilling into the city water supply ?

You can't have a society without administration, and you can't have administration without bureaucracy. You can't even run a web forum without it, let alone a nation/state.


Could be like pre-sewer system Europe and empty shit and piss directly into the gutters of the street. Sure you might have a Typhoid epidemic every couple of weeks but isn't it worth it for the principles and (libertarian intepretations of) FREEDOM.
posted by Talez at 1:54 PM on June 15 [14 favorites]


"They told me the same thing 10years ago when somebody swiped my credit card"

This is why we have installed chips into cards, now. Swiping them is so much easier
Anywho, hope it worked out well for you.

"What's in your wallet?"
-Capital One

Jesus, really?
posted by clavdivs at 1:56 PM on June 15


I am not going to worry until they are at least b-crypto anarchists.
posted by srboisvert at 2:00 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


This is why we have installed chips into cards, now. Swiping them is so much easier

Chips that happily give up everything in the magstripe anyway when prompted.

Chips that are so ridiculously easy to commit fraud with.

Until tokenization comes into the market fully, nobody is safe.
posted by Talez at 2:04 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


How does this work ? Say my neighbor wants to build a garage right on my property line. How is that adjudicated ? Who does the inspections to make sure it is safe ? Who makes sure that the plumbing isn't backfilling into the city water supply ?

Bitcoin, encryption. Jeez, how many times do they have to explain it?
posted by bongo_x at 2:10 PM on June 15 [20 favorites]


Ohohoh, been looking at z cash.

What do you all think about its fungibility and viabilty?
posted by clavdivs at 2:17 PM on June 15


Say my neighbor wants to build a garage right on my property line. How is that adjudicated ?

Every human is a totally rational actor with perfect knowledge that would never violate property rights.

The whole "assume a spherical cow" joke is really just the beginning for crypto-anarchists.
posted by GuyZero at 2:37 PM on June 15 [8 favorites]


replace the nation state and rid us of bureaucrats

How does this work ? Say my neighbor wants to build a garage right on my property line. How is that adjudicated ? Who does the inspections to make sure it is safe ? Who makes sure that the plumbing isn't backfilling into the city water supply ?
in most developing nations that don't have functional rule of law and contracts enforcement, it's usually accomplished via intimidation and according to which neighbor has the better connections with the local gang / power boss / fixer to make the complaints go away.

or in developed society, keep the connections but replace "gang / power boss / fixer" with "police / city inspector / lawyer".

We've been doing this long before there have been bureaucrats. We've just adopted more sophisticated methods for coercion that don't require threats of murder.
posted by bl1nk at 2:55 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


But coding will probably be one of the first jobs to be automated out of existence
Suuuuuure. No one has ever promised that. Millions have already been spent on trying to get rid of the very expensive, wily computer programmer. I'm not saying it can't be done, but many have tried.

Yeah that seems like a peculiar thing to suggest without actually making a case for it. I think a lot of people I know would say it's probably one of the last (blah blah stuff about undecidability that may or may not be relevant in practice). Realistically I think it depends a lot on what kind of "coding" you're doing.

This is far from the most important assertion in this article, of course, and also far from the most dubious.
posted by atoxyl at 2:56 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


Oh. I see. They're not crypto-anarchists in the sense of crypto-fascists; they're crypto-anarchists in that they are paranoid libertarians who don't know how prefixes work.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:28 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


Oh I'm a believer now. Men in their early twenties, in a storefront in Prague, will save us all. I just kind of viewed Prague as a nice enough city, but most likely the shady arms dealing capitol of the world. I could be wrong. I wonder how many arms are sold with untraceable Bitcoins. Isn't that the main use of the stuff, in reality? Well, or insert, heroin, precursor chemicals, children, etc.
posted by Oyéah at 3:40 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


Men in their early twenties, in a storefront in Prague, will save us all.

yeah, well, wait until I tell you about a 20-something newspaper editor in Paris 1843.
posted by GuyZero at 3:44 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


The words "Crypto-Anarchists" need to be written in a dripping it-came-from-the-grave! font.

Also, I am deeply crushed that this robot mentioned in the article is not 50 feet tall in a ginormous warehouse as I first thought that it was, with 80 foot long arms making Japanese pancakes the size of a king-size mattress. I was suddenly so happy that it was a thing, and now it's not a huge pancake making robot overlord, it's only a little 'flip-boy 100' and I'm sad and I don't care about the article.
posted by Zack_Replica at 3:55 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


What a steaming pile of an article. (I stopped reading at the "affects" typo.)
posted by joeyh at 4:18 PM on June 15


How is that adjudicated?

Violence, obviously.
posted by klanawa at 4:23 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


Oh. I see. They're not crypto-anarchists in the sense of crypto-fascists; they're crypto-anarchists in that they are paranoid libertarians who don't know how prefixes work.

"anarcho-fascists" please and thank you
posted by indubitable at 5:12 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


Set of AI people and the set of Blockchain folks is pretty dichotomous: Venn diagram doesn't have much in the middle
posted by hleehowon at 5:41 PM on June 15


Say my neighbor wants to build a garage right on my property line. How is that adjudicated ? Who does the inspections to make sure it is safe ? Who makes sure that the plumbing isn't backfilling into the city water supply ?

Actually, the print-your-own-homes mob have this one covered. You design your own home in an interactive, iterative system that not only knows about geometry, materials, codes architectural rules, but that also knows about the zoning laws, service hook-up and environmental issues of your proposed site - a kind of API for interfacing buildings to land. Construction is largely automated using custom bits and standard components - stuff which is essential for compliance is precomplied (thus usually standard).

Certainly has the potential to be a lot safer, simpler, cheaper and compliant than the current hodge-podge of options, rules, entities and what have yous. In the case of your neighbour wanting to put a garage abutting your land, the project would be halted at the very first stage of that neighbour saying to the system 'I want to build here', and the system checking for what rights you have to object. Adjudicating disputes is without its power, but if it can present you and your neighbour with sufficient appropriate case law, then it may not need to get to that.

As the PYOH lot have a lot of practising architects among their numbers, they're also quite realistic about how difficult it will be to get from A to B on this one, and the answer is very, but it's a sane concept.

(Whether it's any good for the cyber-anarchist a-holes, as it only works with a stable, generally public-good oriented regulatory system with teeth, I wouldn't care to say.)
posted by Devonian at 5:42 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


system that not only knows about geometry, materials, codes architectural rules, but that also knows about the zoning laws, service hook-up and environmental issues of your proposed site

yes, I don't know much about anarchists but I know they love allowing opaque impersonal systems to make all decisions for them
posted by GuyZero at 6:03 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


bongo_x: Uber and the like are the modern day patent medicine cons, and anyone who looks to them as a model is conning or deluded.

True, but it made like five or six dudes super fucking rich, and that's all that ever really mattered.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:48 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


It seems that they appropriated Václav Havel &co.'s parallel polis concept, while stripping away most of the polis part.
posted by runcifex at 6:56 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: I'm sad and I don't care about the article.
posted by slater at 8:26 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


My state could use an opaque impersonal system to allocate resources to maintain its highways.
posted by tgyg at 9:24 PM on June 15


You design your own home in an interactive, iterative system that not only knows about geometry, materials, codes architectural rules, but that also knows about the zoning laws, service hook-up and environmental issues of your proposed site - a kind of API for interfacing buildings to land. Construction is largely automated using custom bits and standard components - stuff which is essential for compliance is precomplied (thus usually standard).

Preposterous. Do you have any idea how much ambiguity and on the fly human judgment is involved in interpreting policies and rules? In software, we've yet to see even a single example of a technology implementation that fully honors the design standards and complies with adopted technology specifications (interpreting, say, html and SQL standards when implementing them in practice, for example, almost always involve similar interpretive challenges and judgments that can have major downstream consequences).

It seems like we keep hoping computers will solve the problem of human judgment being necessary, but human judgment is all we've got to try to solve those problems, ultimately, so it's a futile ambition and a distraction from trying to get better at using intuition and making good, informed judgments for ourselves.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:28 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


I've read the book and it's really rather good. The core idea is that whether it's crypto-anarchy or transhumanism or anarcho-primitivism or the belief that hallucinogenics and psychopharmacology is the future, radical ideas push thinking forward and the failures can be as important as the successes in challenging the status quo.

Most of the people interviewed in the book are complete idealists and optimists with experiments like Liberland and the Five Star Movement and their varying degrees of success.

The book does a solid job of introducing the top-level arguments for (usually directly from the advocates) and against each of these very different approaches to the same fundamental dissatisfaction with the status quo. It also explores some of the motivations behind the people who are off starting these things, though not quite as deeply as I would've liked - it's more of a primer to the philosophies, people and ideals of various fringe groups than it is a deep-dive into any of them.

I enjoyed both the article and the book.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:52 AM on June 16


Preposterous. Do you have any idea how much ambiguity and on the fly human judgment is involved in interpreting policies and rules?

Yes. And I also know how good computers are at manipulating policies and rules. I assume you have a modern mobile phone: there won't be a scrap in there which didn't come about through computer-mediated policy and rule usage. Generating those policies and rules was intensely human, as was the process of working out how to do so in a way that other humans could use automated tools based around them. The result is an astonishingly complex yet cost-effective global commercial and technological system of wireless communication, which could not have come about any other way.

So it's not preposterous that complex, human-oriented systems can't make use of automated management of policies, etc. The question, as always, is how to design the tools that will let us make the best use of our talents.

Building codes, city planning, property law - all have evolved pre-automation. They work, up to a point (and sometimes do not, as anyone who's been in a prolonged property dispute - or who's seen what happened earlier this week in North Kensington, will testify). Does that mean they are the best tools for the job of managing the built environment? Perhaps they are, but to shrug off new thinking - with, as I said, some evidence of effectiveness - as 'preposterous' is just as bad as engineer's disease.

Getting computers to behave as humans isn't terribly successful. Recasting problems in ways that computers are good at, can be. Doing so in ways that exclude humans from the human side - very bad idea. Getting the mix right - terrific.
posted by Devonian at 4:58 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


Crypto-anarchists are everywhere, and they eat old people's medicine for fuel.
posted by lagomorphius at 1:21 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


Suuuuuure. No one has ever promised that. Millions have already been spent on trying to get rid of the very expensive, wily computer programmer. I'm not saying it can't be done, but many have tried.

In a way it's been done, compare the work of programmer now VS the equivalent in the 70s they're working on wildly different levels of abstraction. The problem is telling the computer how to do it never was the most difficult part of the problem, undestanding the problem is the problem.

And I'd really love for zoning /building code laws to be formalized in a way that they're actually predictable (anybody who's ever planned major remodeling in a city knows what I mean) but we're not even close to writing those in human readable form, what makes you think we can explain what we want to a computer.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 8:34 PM on June 16


And I'd really love for zoning /building code laws to be formalized in a way that they're actually predictable (anybody who's ever planned major remodeling in a city knows what I mean)

They are formalized in the sense you can draw up EXACT plans and have them approved.

But then you have to build to that EXACT set of drawings and when the later inspector comes up with a different interpretation be willing to take the matter to court. Building to the EXACT drawings is hard enough. Telling the State to take the State to task VS the citizen.....that's gonna be a hard fight.

With no oversight or teeth in the ways courts or building inspectors operate solutions like 'crypto- anachronism' are what comes up as the 1 person attempt at a solution.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:55 AM on June 17


The problem is telling the computer how to do it never was the most difficult part of the problem, undestanding the problem is the problem.

Imma gonna speak up as a Woc with no small experience online (har) and of social networks as well as the purported outcomes of metahuge data analytics which derive their conclusions, suggestions, recommendations and inferences based on behaviour and activity

So, twitter's categorized me as male based on my profile and activity

The sheer effrontery of deciding which behaviours - on twitter they can't be much more than topics of links shared or topics of conversations and the network of communicators - are "female" and which are "male" is further capped by the patently obvious stereotyping underlying the assumptions that make up the decision making structure

This is the sort of issue that concerns me in our headlong unreflected dive into computers will save our souls yada yada yada

as currently designed, they just might save the souls of 6 or 7 20something white first world privileged males with degrees from a handful of institutions

w00t w00t
posted by infini at 3:09 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


It struck me to check another older lesser used account and yup, that's male too. I wonder if that's the default setting, and if so, whether it's a good thing or bad thing as gender markings go, and, whether it mightn't be a better thing to have the default as "unknown"?
posted by infini at 3:14 AM on June 18


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