Episode Notes

In this episode, Laide chats with Tante (a.k.a. Jürgen Geuter) about his criticism of blockchain and the web3 ecosystem. Tante also shares what counter-arguments or applications will turn him from skeptic to believer.

Tante is an independent theorist working at the intersection of technology, politics, and social sciences. He currently works at a media art company but also writes articles for his blog and for many major publications. Tante studied computer science with a minor in philosophy. He's a self-proclaimed luddite and generalist. Tante doesn't own any cryptocurrencies or NFTs.

Topics & Timeline

  • 2:23 - Tante's background
  • 3:40 - When Tante first learned about NFTs
  • 7:10 - Tante's issue with Art and NFTs
  • 12:29 - On the discovery problem for artists
  • 14:50 - On digital vs physical art
  • 17:57 - On other Web3 applications
  • 26:14 - Privacy advocates and owning your data
  • 29:05 - When it makes sense to use a blockchain
  • 36:45 - Web3 and cultism
  • 41:54 - Areas of improvement for Web3 if it's indeed here to stay

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Episode Transcript

disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate, comical transcription errors amongst others)

Laide: Hey there. Thanks for tuning in. I'd like to inform me that the Onchain Medley podcast will be going on hiatus. So this'll be the last episode for quite a while. I'll share more about why that is in an upcoming episode. All the episodes that have been recorded thus far will still be available for you to listen to at any time.

Thank you to all my guests and to everyone who has listened to subscribe to the show, shared, and rated it. Your support has been instrumental to this endeavor and I'm eternally grateful to you all. All right, let's get on with it onto this episode.

Tante: If you look at the definition of a cult or like, there are checklists of how to realize that something is a cult and this web three blockchain space checks, many of those boxes, like it creates their own language that is exclusionary, that people can't get into.

If they don't also buy into them. There is like a magical technological or magical process that the insiders can use to generate good outcomes. There is a very distinct insider and outsider narrative, and only the insiders are going to go to. Or are going to make it,

Laide: That was Tante. Tante is an independent theorist working at the intersection of technology politics and social sciences. He currently works at a media art company, but also writes articles for his blog as well as for many other publications. Tante studied computer science with a minor in philosophy.

He's a self-proclaimed. And generalist in this episode, we dig deep into why Tante is a fervent critic of blockchain and the web three ecosystem. We also discussed whether there's a silver lining or counter argument or some application that can turn him from a skeptic to believer. I found our entire discussion, quite fascinating and eyeopening.

I have no doubt. You will too. Without further ado. Here's Tante. Hi, Tante, how are you doing today? Welcome to the on chain. Highlight it,

Tante: um, great.

Laide: Awesome. Thank you for, for your time today. I, yeah, let's just kick it off with intros and your background. Just love to learn more about you. Yeah,

Tante: sure. So, yeah, my name is Tatne as we previously discussed.

Uh, I also have like a legal name, uh, a legal name, which is Juergen Geuter, which is a German name. I live in Germany. By trade, I am a computer scientist. I studied computer science and philosophy. I finished it with the equivalent of like a master's degree. I, I taught for a while at university, like teaching AI, machine learning, business processes, a wide range of things.

And then I went to work for different companies, uh, first, a lot in industry automation and also there like data analysis, optimizing processes. And today. Mostly working for a company that creates digital art and media arts. Um, that's like my day job and in my free time, uh, I, or like as, as a side gig, so to speak, I write for different publications.

I wrote for vice, for example, writing from a bunch of German newspapers. Yeah. And my personal blog.

Laide: Of course. Yeah. I've seen that. So I reached out, thank you again for sharing that. So since you work in digital art and media art, then we can just start off with what I really want to talk to you about today is what are your thoughts and FTS?

Uh, when did you first learn about it? What do you think about. And you see a S sort of like synergy with, within MTS or how do you think about it? And the

Tante: first time I came into contact with NFTs was when that term wasn't known yet, that was back in crypto, kitty times when they, one of the first big NFT games came around, uh, where you could trade these kitties on Ethereum.

You could breed them. And it was very much like the, what we see today as NFTs just back then was just a game that, um, Mostly relevant because it was, it showed how a little traffic is area could stand because when that game was popular, Ethereum, basically grinded to a halt. So that was why everyone looked at this game, like, what are people doing then?

Why is it happening? The modern NFT thing. I mean, of course it kind of hits the studio I work for as well. When people ask don't you want to do NFTs? Like. What do you think about it? And I'm not speaking for my employer here. I'm speaking for myself personally. I don't think that an FTS actually solve a problem for the art space.

Um, I think that creating weird incentive structures, that don't gel very well with how I perceive art. I mean, it is true that it's hard to finance artists. Um, it has always been hard to get your art finance, to like get the time and the resources to work on your art. Like a few are just basically the lottery, like yeah, someone wins the lottery, but most people don't and for artists, it's basically the same.

Someone makes it and it's. Always because they're better than you sometimes it's just like right. Or connections or whatever, like it's, you don't know, like they win the lottery and I don't think that NFTs change that it's still, if it were about the art, it would still be. How do you get people to, to pay that much for your artwork?

But what I talked about earlier is like the incentive structures, if we're honest, NFTs onto about the art, like of course art is always about tastes and there are different tastes. And personally, I love digital art. I really do. But most of the NFT art is soul crushing. The. Like it says nothing. It doesn't challenge the medium, it doesn't challenge the former that doesn't make you think or feel it's just it's McDonald's like, yeah, I can generate 10,000 monkeys.

Like you see the little pieces that they put together and then you have 10,000 of them are fine, but that's not what I think is relevant in art. There's not a piece that moves. When you stand in front of it, uh, and media art can absolutely do that. So in that space, I think that media art is for NFTs, very convenient because everyone wants to support artists and art because we all think it's relevant.

It's important. And we all see that so many artists are struggling, so we kind of want to give them something. And so I think the NFTE speculation community just kind of adopted artists, but. As, as the shield, so to speak, um, it's not really about the art and that's why I don't think that NFTs actually solve the problems that we have in media art or art in general.

Laide: Yeah. That's fair. I can see that. So then in this case, then when you think about the problems that you think you have, can you say more about it? Cause I'm wondering if there was a media that you thought evoked some sort of emotion or caused people to think or discuss, and they were in NMT form. Would you say.

The opposed to it, or what, what problems do you think entities need to solve? And

Tante: if he isn't the art, I mean, the artwork itself is evil. I mean, there are NFTs that do contain the art, like SVG images that are where the data's a small enough to put on trade. But usually like the NFT is just the thing that has the URL that hopefully points somewhere, which you never know.

It might be. Yesterday, but it's always about the question. What is the job of art? Why, why are we interested in art? And of course, some people are interested in art because you can use it very easily for tax evasion and to speculate and all that kind of jazz. But let's just put that aside. We're not cynics here.

Why, why do people care about art? Why did I pay a few hundred bucks for a painting? That's on my wall here. Like why? Um, and that just because. It makes me think or because it makes me feel something. And if I look at media art, like there was a great piece a few months ago, I think, where it was a website that only worked.

If you disconnect. Um, and that place with the immediate, that makes you think about the medium, what does it mean to live in an always connected world and to always have access? And how does it make you feel when you can't have access to the world and this piece at the same time, that is something that I find interesting as a media art piece, because it works with the thing.

Like if you build a sculpture, it's about. For me, clay or granite or whatever you make this sculpture from. If you paint it's about color, it's about the texture of the paint on the canvas. For example, NFTs are just, they are just a thing on a ledger. They are what the person that sells the art maybe needs to sell it, but that's not about the art itself.

And I haven't, and I'm not saying that it's not possible, but I haven't seen any. And if T where I I'd consider the NFT itself, part of the art, if you know what I mean, it's like, yeah. It's yes. There's a credit card involved when you buy art, but the credit card is not the. And NFTs are I like the credit card and the traditional sense of, of, of buying media, buying art.

And I think as long as that's the case, they have to measure up to traditional methods of payment and traditional methods of getting artists paid. So that's why I I'm skeptical that again. I'm not saying it's not possible, but I'm kind of skeptical if it's really, um, If NFTs will really be relevant in, in media arts on an, on a deeper level.

Yes. Everything. If you can speculate on it, someone will speculate on it. But if it's like really going to change, how maybe media artists work or think about their art, will artist start thinking about that art as a tokenized thing that they want speculation on, or that they want to have DAOs involved and change the art through consensus, whatever, all of that's as possible.

But the question is, is that relevant enough and interesting enough that artists will use that as an artistic. Do you

Laide: have any thoughts on that question there? And it's still to be determined as far as like what artists are really thinking about? I think

Tante: it's, I think it's hard to determine you see certain artists today, like jumping on the train, but many of them were like either super huge artists who knew that they could make a quick buck.

Um, very established artists that just jumped on it because it's the new thing. And then you saw many, many unknown artists who wanted to like, get paid for what they do, which before they weren't able to, um, But like, um, there have been a few analyses, like, okay, how, how much do these people actually make?

And many people, even if they sell an NFT, maybe two, they don't even get the money for the minting back. So it's hard to like see that as a pathway forward. And it's not that that is very specific to NFTs. We see the same with people opening up Patriots. Then they have three supporters, each one paying three bucks.

That's not. Pay your rent. Uh, but the, the technology of how to get money or support to the artist, doesn't change the fact that the art market and art as a thing we pay for, it's just a very cutthroat situation. And it's really hard to get the, the amount of people to support you. That it's enough. And that's regardless of how you want to do that.

Like project cards and FTS, some magic future. It doesn't change things.

Laide: No, I definitely agree with that. I think one of the things I've also seen in this whole ecosystem that they call web three or whatever, is that I understand the payment aspect, but I also care a lot about the discovery aspect of it.

And I'm just like, yeah, a lot of these artists that are unknown are still unknown in this digital world or this NMT space. And unless they get a lucky break or they get somebody who is more famous to back them, they're still stuck in their saying. System that they had before and empties came to pass. So I don't know the answer to that, but to me, nobody really seems to care about the discovery piece for artists.

Tante: The discovery is obviously a big issue. Yeah, totally right there. On the other hand, the question is, what do people want to discover that when they go looking for NFTs? I think one of the most interesting things about the, the big NFT collections, like the board apes, or, uh, like the, the, the cyber, I forgot how they call it.

Like these pixelated hacker dudes, whatever. Yeah. Right. And nobody talks about who actually made the. I mean, like what for the board apes now it came out like there was an artist in New York who drew the things and wasn't properly paid from what I understood or other kinds of stuff, but people don't talk about it.

And that's why I think this doesn't seem to be a space that actually cares about the art and the artists. So will discovery help the artist to like make a name for themselves? It's not, these are the board apes drawn by. Whatever her name is. I forgot. Sorry. I'm really bad with names. That's not attached to it because it's not hard because it's generic media content, it's content for speculation.

So my fear is that even if you have a great discovery situation for NFTs, that might even suppose to be representing ARD people. Won't go there to look for artists and art. They're going to look for something to invest in. It's not a binary thing. It's not, no one ever here will be discovered, but like it attracts a certain, there's a reason that you want to have your painting in a gallery because people who go to a gallery care about ours and have money, which is also relevant to you.

But these are people who actually. Care about the way that you express what you want to express. So giving, like I could take a picture of the thing in a gallery and like posted on my Twitter feed and say, I like this picture, but are the people who follow me on Twitter? The, the, the few people are they interested in buying art and that's, some of them might be, but a focused public, like you have an, a gallery is, is a very different beast.

I think for. That

Laide: makes a lot of sense, but then it's domain out to your work. You do as a, in the media arts space, a digital art space. I love looking at art and go in galleries and just seeing that, but I don't have that same feeling with digital art. I just don't, there's no museum like concept that compels me to want to go unless I find it in the museum itself.

So I'm just wondering, like, how do you see that? How do you, when you compare and contrast between the physical art and the digital art. Are there parallels there. Do you think things need to change? Do you think people are already experiencing it in a way that they do in the physical world that maybe I just have not privy to?

Yeah.

Tante: I think media artists still, I mean, it's not young young, but it is. I think a lot of it is still looking. For how to express meaningful things. A lot of media art that you can see are like the stuff that currently is very popular in the scene looks like the, the demo reels from 3d engines from, from game engines.

Like it's a lot, it's very flashy and effects and lights and it looks cool. And if you project that in a, in a space, like in an actual room, Good music under it. It is very impressive. It can be very evocative, but it's also very shallow. Oftentimes like it doesn't really say a lot, like the little thing that I talked about earlier, like this little weird website that you go to your browser and brother says disconnect, or you can't see this, that's a little hack, but you probably wouldn't perceive that as art.

You'd see, this is a website. A quirky little website with an interesting property. And like, I think it's, we have learned culturally that if I go to a gallery and I look at the pictures, they are art and that's why I look at them differently. If the same pictures hung at your doctor's, you'd say, okay, they had the kid drew some stuff together, and this looks like garbage.

And I think like being able to perceive art is. Or at least a mindset that you need to have. And some people like some people I work with. It's something that it's the feeling that they never leave that space. They basically see everything as art because that's just how their mind works. And I think that as a general public, for us, it's sometimes hard to actually detect that something might, might have artistic qualities.

If they, if it's a media piece, if it's a website, if it's an interactive piece, like there's an ongoing discussion, it has been for the longest time. If video games are. And it's not the thing that one can solve, but video games are, are a very old thing and we're still not sure if they aren't and in what way they might be art and which games are art and which are not.

So I think that that is still like paintings had more than centuries millennia to get to where they are now. So everyone knew that they are. So I think digital artists. There's room to grow.

Laide: Yeah. The whole thing you mentioned about human perception. Definitely. We all need to work up our pallet in some way, shape or form.

All right. So switching gears now, a little bit to the broader sort of web three that they call it now a blockchain ecosystem. You talked about NFTs. I definitely know how you feel about it now, but how do you see the, the other pieces of the applications of blockchain? What are your thoughts on any of

Tante: those?

As I said, I come from like a very applied. Background, like I studied computer science, I know many different database technologies. I know many different, different technologies that do different things. I'm very much a generalist. I never focused on like this one thing, like I'm not a Java script person or a Python person.

Like I try to have a very broad knowledge about everything because it's also what my job requires. I need to solve problems with, with the best stuff that is available to me that fits to the problems. I want to quote the, the director of the Australian digital innovation agency, which, which tells the Australian government, what is relevant in tech and whatnot.

And he said about blockchain. Blockchain is basically, you don't see demand by users. You see people trying to sell it. And they in their digital agency who worked months on analyzing real world use cases, they have not found a real world use case. Uh, we have blockchain was the best implement. Like, there is always a better traditional way to do things.

And that's obviously not true in general. I mean, if you want to build a things such as Bitcoin, the way that Bitcoin works today, like no regulation, pseudonymity, no way to undo transactions and all that kind of jazz, then blockchain might be the right solution for. But that is a very narrow problem space.

So that's why I'm so critical of this whole narrative of putting everything on blockchains, just because you can run smart contracts, like, okay. I understand what, what blockchains do. Like they are tools to create and undebatable truth between people who don't trust each other. And we use that to like, to store the truth about who owns how many tokens or how many coins or whatever, but it's basic.

The foundational idea is you create a truth. One state of the digital database that nobody can argue with. That is a very rare plot problem to have, like a lot of the time we. We either trust each other or at least trucks trust certain entities. So you oftentimes have an easier way to implement things differently, with cheaper, with more scalable, uh, less environmentally toxic, uh, technologies.

And I know not all blockchains are environment that you toxic, like in before someone writes, yes. Solana, teasers, whatever a blockchain you can think of. On the whole, that is, that is like one technological issue that I have with this whole web three approach. It's like, okay. But that's not how engineering works.

Like a lot of the analysis. After the web three proponents are right. We have massive, uh, problems with monopolies. Like Facebook is the social graph, the monopoly on the social graph. That's not something we want, we should want, we have like the, the, the search index is basically monopolized by Google and we have all these, these big entities that monopolize something that is, that is a problem, a big problem.

But I think that choosing blockchain, just because of. Are really desperately looking to put these somewhere is the wrong approach. The right approach would have been to say, this is the problem. What properties does our solution need to have and how can we build it? And I've never seen that kind of analysis.

It's always like, oh yeah, we can solve this with blockchain, but that's not how I want. Especially like these deeply ingrained social socio-technical systems to be designed because when you really build the infrastructure that people start relying on, it's really hard to change things. So kind of need to get things right to a certain.

And yes, we can patch things later, but especially with a technology such as blockchain, which is so adverse to, to fixing things because you want to deploy it in a way where there is no entity that could say, okay, we're going to upgrade the backend. So this back does no longer exist. You have to get everyone basically to, to agree for a fix or won't be applied.

That's a technical issue. My other issue is a political one, and that is blockchains and related technologies. Like one for the iota guys that might pop up, they are distributed ledgers, which was a term that was invented when blockchain was very much. Term for a awhile. They always call it distributed ledger.

Distributed ledger is a very important term because it's a ledger. Where do we need ledgers, ledgers store transactions for companies like its ledgers are very important for economic activity. That's what they do. They store who buys what from whom and who gets what, and that kind of stuff. That is part of what we do on the internet.

We buy things. We might sell things. At least some of us do. Um, we might get money. We might spend money. There is a lot of economic activity on the internet. There also is a lot of non economic activity on the internet. There's a lot of collective activity on the internet. There are things that we might not want to put into this framework of, of tokenization and finance financialization.

I don't think. That we want to have people speculate on the value of a certain Wikipedia entry. I don't think that that is a useful framework of thinking about the world. Like there's a concept called ownership, individualism that basically describes what were three ones. Like the world is just people.

Who may contract about buying stuff from one another. That's what the world is like. You are, you are what you own. And the only job that governments and states or whatever have, is to create the market. Like they have to guarantee that contracts work, that people obey the contracts and now blockchain comes and says, yeah, we don't even need the governments.

And states like the technology guarantees that the. The smart contracts are followed. So we solve this great, but that's, I think not the world that we want to live in. Like my relationship isn't like to my partner, isn't a token that I need to sell or buy or have or whatever. It's a different, it's a wholly different thing.

And I don't want. You have to think about that in that kind of framework. Like the people I talked to on like some social media platform, they're not weird tokens or accounts, like there's, there's a lot more going on. Not every interaction is a financial engine interaction. Like we didn't create, set up a smart contract for this.

To have like it creating like 500 tokens or a token for every minute. And then we split them based on something. When, whenever I sell a token for like minutes without we know in minutes, 20, 26, uh, then you get a cut of that. This is not how we think about many things. There's actually like a very small part of what we do on the internet that fits that framework.

But suddenly people decided. Mostly because it's super easy to implement, like saying everything is you have, you have an ID, you have multiple IDs, but like an ID, a wallet can own a thing. That thing represents your domain name, a block, post, an artwork, whatever you can think of is super easy to. Like you don't have to think about the complexities of, of living in this world.

But our world is complex. Our social interactions are complex and they are not always economic. And a lot of the time they are not economic. And that's my political issue with, with this whole movement of people we think, yeah. Blockchain is going to solve this. Yeah. But blockchain is alleging. They are about transactions between entities and not everything's a transaction.

Laide: No, that's well said that that makes a lot of sense. But what about people who say things like. Well, you want to own your data like Facebook and Google and all these companies, they own your data. And so with web three and blockchain, you have control over your own data. It's not a transaction in that sense.

It's just, I don't know, sheep of what they believe is rightfully yours. How do you think about those sort of counter that pop up?

Tante: As you sat there, many privacy advocates who say yes, yes, you should own your data. And argue for that. Like even ask, uh, argued that like Facebook should pay you if they use your data and that kind of stuff.

I think they are making the same mistake that the web three people are making, because they think that the data. I mean sometimes like it slips out, but I try never to say, it's my data or your data, the things it's data about me. But like when you invited me to this podcast, you sent me like a calendar invite and it had my name in there and like my email address, do I own that?

How, how much of this calendar invite do I own? Because. Meta information about me as involved. I think this framework of thinking, yeah, this is my data and I need to control it again is very lazy because. Again, to, to map a very complex thing to property and ownership because of the things ownership is easy and simple to do.

And ownership is a very complex problem actually in law. But our lives are even more complicated because a lot of the things that legally, uh, we consider to be scare code your data. Only come from, for example, a relationship to other people saying you are the daughter of X, it is data about you, but it's also data about someone else.

And it can't be separated. It's not a thing that just belongs to you, even though people would say, yeah, that's about you like your genetic code, you could say, yeah, that's mine. It's uh, it's my code. Obviously it run, but it's half of your dad's and half your mom's. As well. And like your, if you have siblings, they share a lot of that.

And there are, there are actually cultures like the Maori in New Zealand, they argue that you are not even allowed like many, many tribes. They argue you're not even allowed to digitize your genetic code because your genes are part of the community. They're not yours. They are. What makes you part of that?

Hundreds and thousands of years of history and they belong to the story of the tribe. So I think that this mapping of properties that we perceive to be personal or related to an individual on ownership is itself the same problem that there were three people are the same wrong mapping that there were three people try to map on

Laide: it.

Yeah. Interesting. That makes a lot of sense. Uh, and so like, just thinking through that, I know you'd mentioned earlier to ledger. Uh, do you think there's any sort of application that you are like in this really small niche area, it does make sense to have a blockchain, or do you think that we've already solved a lot of those even niche problems you can think of with other technologies or applications?

I mean,

Tante: you could also always say. Uh, Bitcoin, you guys have Bitcoin is the problem that a blockchain solves. So you have an identity asset that is censorship and regulation resistant. So for, for that kind of thing, it makes sense to use a blockchain. The argument, if those things are. It's something else.

I'm not saying it's good that we have Bitcoin, but if I wanted to build something like Bitcoin, a blockchain is the right thing. My problem usually is I keep asking blockchain people to give me good examples of a thing that only a blockchain can do. A blockchain is the best way to do it. And usually they come up with things like, yes, you can track.

For example, that in logistics, that a thing was always cool. And then you can have it stored on the chain and everybody can control it. And like when you're in a supermarket, you scan your thing and then you see that it has always been cool enough is that yeah, but that. Like a, we're already doing that.

Like, if you have like one of those refrigerated trucks, they have these stickers on there. And as soon as this thing gets too warm, the sticker colors, and nobody will take this stuff in there anymore. Like we already have technologies that do that cheap and just having something on a blockchain. Doesn't really say a lot about the real world and that's not a blockchain specific problem.

That is a problem of digital representation of physical things. Um, you probably know the term like it's, that is the Oracle problem. Like a system can only say things about things within that system. Your computer can't tell the temperature outside. You can find. Uh, sensor that could digitize that information and send it to your computer.

And now your computer can talk about this data, but if the thermometer is broken, the data, your computer has is wrong. And you have the same thing with as, with every other database with a blockchain, like garbage in garbage out. If I use a blockchain to track real world, Now I have to trust the Oracles, like the sensors that's right.

Stuff to the chain. So I'm starting to trust because I have to trust the people not to, to fiddle around with these sensors to cheat. But if I already have a situation where I say, okay, these people are trustworthy enough that I know they. I don't need to jump through all the hoops to run a blockchain. I can just use one of the standard ERP system that I need to be running anyways.

And we already have solutions for that. Like I used to work for a company that basically does just in time delivery of parts to a car manufacturer. Like when it come in, your factory sees that as certain thing runs out unplanned, they call the manufacturer, say, okay, start producing this stuff. We're having a helicopter come your way.

It's going to be there in an hour. Give us as much as you can. And that already works like even on a digital level, like these things are very much tied together. So that's why I think it's so hard to find good use cases for. Blockchains because so often when people produce something as a case, you realize no, You actually have entities you trust.

So the whole complexity that blockchains bring, it don't make sense, or you're trying to store something, but you need like Oracles to bring data in. And that also creates like a situation of trust in Germany currently. There's uh, there are a few politicians who want to make Germany like the blockchain.

Uh, blockchain hub and a big, big thing. They're talking about putting like the information who owns, which land on a blockchain for, for some reason, but like who owns what land is decided by the government of that area? You have an authority that makes that call. Like you don't have a situation where you can't trust anyone.

Like, no, there is some official who signs that this is yours now. Like they check their, their processes to check. This is not a random thing that you have to do around the state because the state is the, the entity that gives you that thing, that enforces that you can build on the land that you just built, that you just bought.

So there, I think again, You can build that thing with a blockchain, but isn't the best way to build it. Is it the best solution for the problem? And that's why I really haven't seen a good case presented to me. And that might just be that I haven't met the right person. And they keep repeating it. I'm not saying that there is not a case.

Blockchains are actually quite simple technologies with a very specific user profile. And as soon as you have the situation described in that user profile, You will probably use a blockchain because it makes sense. And if, if someone presented that case to me, I'm like, okay, there, you should use it, do it.

And it's not just Western societies. Even if you look at Asia, like there's so much stuff going on where people do trust entities, like we hear a lot about. Um, yeah, but we need to bank the unbanked, uh, lower because they can't pay cash because cash is a problem. It's like, yes. And people in Africa have been having that issue for a long time and they invented Mpesa and that works and yes, it relies on central authorities.

But it solves the problem really well. And they do not create a problem of, oh, you click the wrong link. All your apps are gone because there are checks and balances. Like money could be transferred back to you when someone cheated and you can prove that they cheated. So whenever I meet people who are really deep in that whole blockchain space, I asked them like, okay, what do you think?

What is the case for blockchain? Where would you, where do you think. That's the implementation. I'm convinced at some point someone will present a case where I can't solve it in a better way. And that's that day just hasn't come yet.

Laide: Yeah. He find that person and please tweet about it. So I can, I can read

Tante: up on it.

Not really. I will, I I'm really interested in finding a case because again, blockchains. A very simple tech, like you can implement a blockchain in about a hundred lines of Python. It's really not that complicated, but as, as a whole system, like as an emergent system with many different players, it can have interesting characteristics.

And interesting. Doesn't always mean useful. Like there is an RFC of how to do TCP IP with carrier pigeon. That is interesting by that's not super useful. I think that people overestimate how useful blockchains are and that to a ridiculous degree and that kind of makes it harder for them to find a good.

Because they think blockchain is the best thing for everything. And it's not.

Laide: Yeah, I agree with that. But I just wonder, like, why do you think that is like, you're obviously a smart guy, but I see so many smart people in this space or seemingly smart people. And I'm just like, I'm just asking the questions cause I'm not sure about it.

So that's why I have conversations like this with people like ye to kind of educate myself a little bit better, but I've just, I just don't understand. I feel like there's an echo chamber and I'm just like, maybe I'm an idiot. I don't get why somebody would, I think are really smart. Can't answer the question that you asked, which is what does he do better than we have today?

Do you know why that is? I

Tante: think that's a very complex answer and it doesn't capture all of it. Of course. Like I have my theories. Of course I can prove this as why. And I think most people will like fall on the things that I outline now to different degrees. Like on the one hand you have. People like Andreesen, Horowitz, they just saw everything that they can invest in and make a lot of money on.

Like they don't care about blockchain at all. For them. It's just, they can get startups and get all the benefits out of getting a startup to the point where they can sell stocks without having to put in any work. They can make them money instantly. That's why they do it for them. It's money. They couldn't care less.

And you have the ideology and all that kind of shit. Sorry. I swore, I mean, that's the very cynical thing and I know that's, that's not everyone, but I think it's part of a lot, like many people think that they can make a quick buck there. And that falls on like a situation like my generation. I'm a little over 40.

It's the first generation in the west. That's worse off than the parents. We have no job security, many people I in my generation will never own the home. They live in, uh, like we are in desperate times and for, for many people they think, okay. Yeah, I'm screwed anyways. Like I will never get anywhere. I work at a dead end job.

Okay. Kind of get by, but if rent growth grows even more, I'm out. So speculating on this thing, like playing the lottery, it's very attractive, especially if there are so many people who tell them, I have the scheme of how you can win this lottery, like buy this token and you will get rid of. Awesome. A big group and a group that makes me criticize the system so much, because those are usually very much disenfranchised people who have were very in danger of losing.

The little money they have, and then you have people who actually believe in the politics of it and blockchain itself is really just like, oh yeah, that's the tech that fits the politics. And that's like, very anti-state anti-regulation, anti-tax libertarian, right-wing libertarian ideology. You probably know the book by David Columbia.

Like the politics of Bitcoin who out, which outlined. That kind of thinking where it's really about, okay. Yeah. The state shouldn't control the money, but like, there are reasons why we want states to be able to control money and to maybe even create money or destroy money, because that is a function of.

Uh, we learned that as good that politicians have that other politics has that, that ability, because it allows us to be more robust against economic crisis. So you have a mix of really weird. And for some people that's just a tech, there are people who just love this blockchain smart contract stuff. And for them, it's just, they just happy that someone uses it.

And so you have this, this very, uh, and yet this very, uh, Let's call it just to trigger them a little bit diverse group of people with very different interests and, and, uh, very different ideas about the world. And they create this, this, this echo chamber chamber. And if you look at. This is going to get me in trouble, probably.

But if you look at the definition of a cult or like they are there checklists of how to realize that something is a cause and this web three blockchains space checks, many of those boxes, like it creates their own language that is exclusionary, that people can't get into it. If they don't also buy into the whole thing, there is like a magical technological or a magic.

Process that the insiders can use to generate good outcomes. There is a very distinct insider and outsider narrative, and only the insiders are going to go to heaven or are going to make it in the link language of blockchain. And we're three. And I think that's what creates this very messy. Um, and enthusiasm and, and very aggressive marketing also at times where people just, they tie their identity to this tech for very different reasons.

For some it's for some, actually the tech for some it's. Yes. I can speculate on this for some it's. Maybe I'll be able to buy a car. And for some people it's, this is how we can finally get rid of states and governments and people who tell me that I can't have sex with 13 year olds. So it's a, it's a very complex system of, of, of interlocking ideas.

And not everyone, not everyone is a libertarian in that space. Not everyone is in there to speculate and make money, but these are like the, the four main axes that I see where people are like when people are probably some. On this spectrum.

Laide: Fascinating. And then just last questions for you. If things were to change, I know, I know you're not, you know, you don't, you can't predict the future, but if you were to, how do you think things will change in this ecosystem or this technology landscape?

As we see, I

Tante: like the things I see happening and that will, it's really hard to make predictions in that space, obviously, because it's changing and shifting around all the time. I mean, the thing that we already see right now is massive centralization. Like there's. There's meta mask and yes, there might be a few wallets aside from it, but it's keeping going to meta mask.

And then there's a, uh, of course, open sea, which emerges. It's like the big NFTE space ENS, uh, is like the, the name services. You have all these centralized services that keep popping up. And there's always the promise of, at some point it's going to be a DAO or whatever, but I think we will see more of that kind of centralization, which we already see in like, Most of the web three services, don't actually talk to the chain anymore because it's annoying.

So they use inferon, which belongs to the same company that meta mask belongs to. Um, so we have already, uh, this tendency and people, I think we will see more of that just because the space, if you want to do it right. It's so complicated. It's so error prone that people will emerge to make things. Like, if you mentioned Metta mosque on Twitter, you have your mentions full with people trying to scam you like click this link and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, someone.

I think there will be more as spam filtering and you can only do that very efficiently if you're centralized. So that's a big thing that I see on the other hand. I think, and this is kind of a positive upload, actually. I think that's actually a good thing that they, that they will happen currently. A lot of things that are sold as DAOs or as communities aren't like, because all the governance features aren't there, they're just selling tokens, but let's just put that aside and think, okay.

At some point, people would start using DAOs for actual governance and decision-making, and they might even play around with different ways of handling things. Not just who has the most tokens get the most votes, gets the decision, but maybe like fair, uh, more, uh, more equitable ways of, of handling these kinds of things.

And if the contracts that can handle these kinds of structures get standardized, that could be very helpful. Like if you have. If you were able on a blockchain that doesn't destroy the fucking planet, like the big ones we see today, if you could just basically just drag and drop a contract where, you know, this is the sort of governance and the sort of rules that this contract codifies, I think that could be helpful, especially if you actually want to keep this space.

Uh, if it goes away, I'm not sad, but if, if you want to keep it the round, I think it's important to get to a point where people can rely on the functionality of a contract without having to read it. And without having to understand it, because it's too hard, it is. Especially when you have like these big systems of different contracts, interacting smart contracts, interacting with one another.

And that basically could only be done through another set of centralization. Like you could have an entity that, for example, audits and certifies certain contracts. And so your, your centralized metal mask would have like, uh, an audit provider and the meta mask would warn you when you interact with a non-certified contract.

So you are protected against people stealing your apes at least to a certain degree. And I think that as bad for the narrative of web three, that always keeps talking about decentralization as bad as the centralization is. And as much as that goes against the promise of the whole space, I think it opens up the avenue towards making the space a little less dangerous and hostile.

To people. And I think that making systems that people interact with less hostile and loss dangerous is, is a net. Good. I hope that that. Happen. And then if, if, if people start actually playing around with downs as organizational structure and events, these things might actually be interesting for once, because right now I think we have three is very, it's very boring.

It's yeah. Rich people get a lot of tokens and can vote on what they want. Yes. That's that's life Elan. Musk can do whatever the fuck he wants, because he has the money. That's the world that we're three is now, but like, If I've answered this way too long, but let's let, let me finish this, this answer with my favorite pet peeve with that whole blockchain and book three crowd.

Whenever I meet these people who talk a lot about Dallas, I ask them what's their favorite left anarchist because left and her kids left us. Eric has have been thinking about how to organize without. Authority and centralized power for decades, if not centuries, like there's libraries full of that stuff.

How can you form consensus without using violence, without having structure that oppressed people? And I see very little of that in web three. Like I expect them to say, yeah, I'm more of a, I'm a Goldman person and I'm more of a Bakunin person, whatever. Like you can have all these different thinkers. They kind of fit to that space that, because they're mostly, right-wing libertarian for them.

It's about, I own everything. So I'm got that doesn't come up. But if the space actually starts to play around with these things, There might actually be interesting stuff to look at and talk about, but that's certainly, certainly not what I see currently, but at least I, I think that the centralization will create a form of robustness that that will make the website where three years is going.

great.com is a little slower and that would be a good thing.

Laide: That's awesome. I thought you were looking at you giving them ideas of what to do.

Um,

Tante: I'm still a lover, but as I said, People, I was thinking you had blockchain and everything, and you're just, no, I mean, I'm actually thinking about where value could be in that space.

And I don't think that it's the biggest change ever. But I think it could be at least an interesting test, that to play around with a few political ideas. And that would be, I'd like to see that, but right now it's just a big casino and I don't go to casinos because, um, I, I studied math, so, uh, going to casinos.

Uh, it's hard for me to do

Laide: you know, that that's fair. That makes total sense. I was just fascinating to our day. How can people keep up with you? What's next for you? Uh,

Tante: yeah. Uh, I'm basically tan to everywhere. My main social media thing is Twitter. My website is talented on CC and currently, still somewhat in this web three spaces.

Of course on the, on the critical side of things. I forgot to mention, which I always do in this web three context. I don't own any crypto or any tokens. Like I think that's important to like mentioned that's a thing I keep working on. Like, uh, in summer I'm going to speak at the Republica, which is a big conference in Europe/Germany about digital spaces, about web three again.

Yeah. So if you want to follow me and the things that I do, I think my Twitter account is probably the best, the best. Way to do that.

Laide: I'd agree with that. What am I most interested in follows? Cause I'm always curious to see what you, what you put out there and I'm always just reading it. So thank you for everything you're doing to hold people more accountable and make people aware of what's going on.

Yeah. This has been amazing. Anything else you

Tante: want to share? I apologize for the horrible things I've done to the English language here. Um, yeah. Thanks for the invitation.

Laide: . Of course. Thank you, you know, your English is better than my German. So I will say that. So, so donkey that's the best I can say.

Thank you. Thank you so much that day. I really appreciate your time today. It's just fantastic. Thank you so much for listening. I'm your host Laide until next time.