Use cases of crypto and blockchain that aren’t total bullshit… perhaps

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts/questions about the actual use cases for the industry outside of crypto-bro speculation, idiot monkey jpegs, greater fool theory, climate destroying PoW, and scummy scammer shit that slide into our dms constantly.

I feel that, so I wanted to write out what I’m observing, maybe that can give perspective to some.

These are the use cases that have kept me interested in the fundamental promises of the tech.

1. There’s been much ado about the digital currency thing. It isn’t about it being online because of course we’ve had that for a long time, it’s about not needing a third party like a gov/bank/payment processing company to adjudicate the money supply or money transfers. This seems to be more useful for third world or unstable gov situations where wealth in banks can be seized, gold can be stolen, and fiat currency can be rendered useless because the minting gov collapsed.

2 . “the world’s computer” — ethereum’s original promise. Like AWS, but decentralized, so a globally distributed network of servers for applications to run on top of, but no single point of failure (think Dyn hack that took down AWS East a few years back). There’s a long way to go to fulfill this promise with blockchain, obvi, but this is the one I’m most excited for personally.

3. immutable/automated record keeping– think medical records, academic transcripts, ID systems. Again, probs best for countries/situations where institutional stability leaves something to be desired or where cross-border authenticity is in question.

4. new business models for the service economy that distribute value and ownership. Imagine a netflix that instead of you paying them 10,20,30 dollars every month, they give you a netflix token for every hour of show you watch. And you can use that token to vote on what shows get renewed for another season and who’s going to star in the next GoT or whatever. There would be a group of people that watch a lot of netflix and get tokens, a second group of people that don’t want to watch that much netflix but DO want to vote on which shows get renewed so maybe they go buy some tokens from the first group, and a third group of people that aren’t interested in netflix at all but know that there is enough of the first two groups of people and so buy tokens on spec, and boom you have a whole micro-economy built up with its own liquidity to do stuff like make TV shows. Weird example, but maybe fun ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

5. Smart contracts/ automated if-this-then-that type agreements that can’t be turned off. I’m still wrapping my head around this one, and again this promise I think has years to go, but the ability for code to behave as a trusted escrow account to facilitate transfers of value based on conditions being met is juicy for lots of industries.

Most major innovations take about 30 years/1 generation to get full adoption– cars and internet come to mind. In that framework, we’re in the 2nd of 3 chapters of the 30 year process of adopting new technologies, pretty much the late 90s early aughts for the internet. By 2030, the fluff will have bled out, and I think there will be unassailable use-cases that are adopted by large numbers of people. And not necessarily with their explicit knowledge– tech is adopted when it disappears into the background of our lives. My mom/dad will never understand blockchain or crypto, but I’d wager that by 2030 many services they use will utilize blockchains to deliver value, and by 2040 we won’t even be able to remember the world as it was before.

Good luck out there everyone

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10 thoughts on “Use cases of crypto and blockchain that aren’t total bullshit… perhaps”

  1. This is a great post. The deeper I get into crypto the more I’m asking myself these questions, but inevitably end up feeling a little despondent.

    We’re all hoping for a killer solution to a global problem (or even a local one), but nothing yet. Even the basic ability to transfer funds, which is the most recognised ability that crypto offers, is still not available in any meaningful way – you know, a kind of WhatsApp (but not actually WhatsApp) for money transfers.

    I can imagine it’s incredibly complicated, but you’d think after 14 years something would be in the works. But nobody is anywhere close, or at least not yet.

    I know we’re early, but I’m getting sick of hearing myself say that.

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  2. Transformational technologies are usually the convergence of multiple other technologies that have matured to a certain degree. As the rate of change and progress continues to increase you will see these convergences accelerate. Crypto will be a required technology for many future convergences to be possible.

    Keep an eye out for DACs, IOT/M2M economies, decentralized identity schemas, data fabrics and plenty more that emerge, utilizing AI, crypto, quantum computing and much more to see the true value crypto will bring to the world over next 10-20 years.

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  3. Voting on netflix shows is interesting, but how would you incentivise new, risky projects if all the money is flowing to rhe safe options? Also, choosing cast members is a terrible idea no creator would sign up to. I could see an economy developing around reality shows though.

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  4. > This seems to be more useful for third world or unstable gov situations where wealth in banks can be seized, gold can be stolen, and fiat currency can be rendered useless

    It’s very naive to think that this is only a problem in 3rd world or unstable places. Just look to Canada earlier this year with the truck stuff. I don’t know much about this and as far as I can tell those people were stupid and doing bad stuff, but this is alarming (off of wiki):

    “Canadian banks were also temporarily given the authority to freeze accounts suspected of being used to support the protests without the need to obtain court orders, were granted legal immunity if they chose to do so, and were allowed to more freely share information with law enforcement and government agencies.”

    This is not 3rd world or unstable, and it is terrifying. I can go tomorrow and protest about a legitimate thing, e.g. if something like the Iraq invasion happened I’d protest, and the government can just decide to block the money I earned and paid taxes on, before even being to court to defend myself.
    It’s also happening now with the Ukraine war: I know Russians who live abroad in Western countries, nothing to do with the war or Putin, live e.g. in Paris, work there for 10+ years, and now they have issues with accessing their money.

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  5. Why would any company want their logistics trackable on a public ledger? These things are usually very confidential information. You don’t want your competitors being able to see how much resources you buy & products you ship.

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  6. Livepeer. Makes use of useless gpu computing power.
    Ocean protocol makes large datasets manageable. (Will be interesting in the near future with all this AI tech evolving as it is.)
    Doge for payment of goods and services.
    Monero/anon/etc for keeping your payments private.

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  7. I think the best use case will be electronic voting but there are still hurdles. It needs to be public and highly regulated, 1 vote per person, but also anonymous and we’re not quite there yet I think!

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  8. 1. Stable coins are failing left and right, it’s the same idea as wildcat banks. That ended terrible, and so will stable coins.
    2. 2. You know the total computing power of all of ethereum is less than a single raspberry pi?
    3. All of your examples involve personal data, and it’d be a nightmare to have that stuff on a public and immutable ledger for all to see. Patients don’t want that, and neither do hospitals, it’s the same with students and schools. Putting all that info up leaks a ton of info, and enough to de-anonomyze people through just coincidence.
    4. These tokenomic schemes don’t work well in practice for simple reasons: the tokens don’t have any value, and transferring them is slow and expensive. Once you go down that path, making a token, you’re entire business is geared towards that, and you end up taking initial investment that’s interested in dumping their allocation of tokens on retail investors to make their money back, and largely doesn’t care about the tech as long as it enables them to dump the coins. It’s a moral hazard, and largely the reason why a16z has made a killing in the last market cycle.
    5. So you have an “if-this-then-that-else” type logic on the public blockchain controlling billions of dollars, since why not? it works and you’re a large corporation. Because the blockchain is public, everyone can see the logic/code in your smart contract, some smart developer figures out an exploit, and you lose hundreds of millions of dollars. This exact scenario countless times.

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