Will Weatherly is a contributor to RI Future and a senior editor at the College Hill Independent. He lives in Providence, RI. You can follow him on Twitter @willbweatherly.

One response to “Blockchain has a far-right past. Does it have a future in Rhode Island?”

  1. Randall Rose

    Blockchain isn’t just for the right wing. It’s a technology that offers some benefits for all. I think government communications to the public absolutely should be put on blockchain, since then State House leaders couldn’t put an announcement up and then quietly yank it later (which they sometimes do with public hearings etc.) It’s true that blockchain is overhyped, and it’s true that some libertarian hopes involve blockchain, but it would be foolish to see this valuable technology as a partisan issue.

    Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin do have some problems. At their worst they can be used for financing terrorists or for money laundering by wealthy wrongdoers, but I think those things would happen regardless of whether cryptocurrencies exist. Sometimes cryptocurrencies are defended as a way to keep banks and the government from exploiting the economy, and this is a benefit, but it doesn’t amount to much since many who are involved in cryptocurrencies are just trying to do their own financial speculation to extract profits from the real economy without generating any genuine social value.

    Still, I think cryptocurrencies can sometimes be really beneficial. Every large society has an underground economy alongside the officially respected economy. Most progressive efforts have been focused on trying to achieve a society where the respectable economy is as good as possible. But even if you live at a time when the respectable economy is fairly good, the underground economy can sometimes deal well with problems that the respectable economy doesn’t want to solve, and can promote good changes that the respectable economy is resisting. Cryptocurrencies help the underground economy work, which can be useful if you’re hiding people from Nazis, for instance. I’m not saying the underground economy is always great — you have to make sure that anyone in the underground economy can always free themselves from it, because otherwise terrible things happen to them. But I think the best way for laws to deal with the underground economy is to ensure that each individual can leave the underground economy whenever they want, while still leaving the underground economy able to function. So, I’m a moderate supporter of cryptocurrencies, while also supporting the more general technology of blockchain.

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