The anti-crypto movement is no longer spontaneously limited to bankers, economists and politicians embodying the system challenged by bitcoin technology. Mistrust is growing and the opposition is uniting, weakening even the communities of enthusiasts and “first adopters”.
Here is the story of a young French crypto veteran who has also decided to lay down his technological weapons on the front lines of a market where many seem to be capitulating. Nicolas Bustamante, precocious entrepreneur, promoted in the ranking Under 30 of Forbes for his artificial intelligence startup Doctrine, a kind of ” Google of law », recalls having discovered bitcoin in 2012. Random documentary research for his final work on the banking system.
Admitting to being fascinated by the concept of a currency free from government manipulation, Nicolas quickly downloaded the entire Bitcoin blockchain, which weighed less than 10 gigabytes at the time. But he especially remembers the few people with whom he could then exchange BTC, the first time the price crossed 1,000 dollars at the end of 2013, the approximately 200 dollars that the cryptocurrency was worth in August 2015…
” I observed this space intermittently, which I perceived as a gigantic casino. Remember Namecoin, MaidSafe, Bitconnect and Bitshares? All of these coins were showing billions of dollars and then disappeared, leaving investors with nothing”, pin Nicolas Bustamante.
Bitcoin perceived as a source of hope
The entrepreneur who created value for his thousands of customers through AI recalls a crypto bubble in 2017, when tons of projects tackling non-existent problems managed to capture millions in new money. Disgusted, Nicolas had therefore ignored the bitcoin ecosystem until 2018. But, this time by chance of a friendly relationship which was trying out the Lightning Network, a protocol allowing instant and inexpensive payment in bitcoins, the Doctrine co-founder started spinning a Bitcoin node and testing Lightning to “ identify the state of technology “.
An experience that will push him to embark on a crypto business in August 2021 from his new adopted city, San Francisco. Impossible for him to hide his excitement, Nicolas had the feeling of joining ” young revolutionary builders » working to decentralize the web and improve the world.
” Bitcoin is a hope for humanity. Bitcoin has been the most crucial technological protocol since the advent of the internet. This is our best chance to fix our monetary systems and therefore put an end to the choppy economy we all suffer from. There are thousands of reasons why it might not work. However, if there is any chance of it succeeding, it is one of the most decisive projects to work on today. », praised Nicolas Bustamante in November 2021when the most famous of cryptocurrencies was going to reach an altitude record at 69,000 dollars per unit.
Back to the sad reality
Since then, this entrepreneur’s enthusiasm has obviously cooled, his ideals of decentralization, protection of privacy and democratization of property being eclipsed by the sole killer app crypto worthy of the name, namely an always this same “ gigantic online casino, free to access, concentrating worthless digital assets “.
Nicolas Bustamante has long believed that purely speculative use cases are mere temporary anomalies. Nevertheless, the crypto entrepreneurs he met on a daily basis prided themselves only on their multi-million fundraisers or their NFTs that managed to extort buyers of several thousand dollars for a jpeg. Without ever, according to him, discovering genuinely inspiring products, solutions or business models.
It suffices to be convinced of this to observe the phenomenon of yield farmingan investment technique on DeFi platforms (decentralized finance) allowing to generate passive returns thanks to its deposits (staking) or its loans (lending) in crypto-assets. ” Tokens were created from scratch to reward providers of other tokens. I met full-time yield farmers, but also people who were working to invent these tokens in order to feed the circuit. WTF asks Nicolas Bustamante again. Meanwhile, the crypto market and the segment of the farming collapsed, dragging down dozens of companies and investment funds that declared bankruptcy.
The crypto crash that began in May 2022 suggests to the most enthusiastic that a purge of speculators is taking place, the “builders” being better able to focus on technological innovation. But is there real progress outside of crypto trading? Are there real needs, unmet customers, a market for crypto companies with virtuous solutions for society? ” Crypto brings together the best dreamers, pushing the boundaries of a decentralized civilization, and the worst crooks”believes for his part Nicolas Bustamante, who has decided to stop his crypto exploration to focus on other technologies that suit him better.
In the meantime, the intellectual opposition is structuring itself more broadly to demolish the insane promises attributed to blockchain and other technologies.
Dissonant voices rise in tech
Seen from the outside by the uninitiated, the tech community can look like a big international summer camp where everyone joins hands singing ” Kumbaya, my code “. And crypto players could appear there as a clan of adventurous explorers only attracting the mistrust of supervisors (governments, historical industries). Yet the tech family world remains an illusion and opponents of cryptocurrency developments want to make their arguments heard.
The case of Nicolas Bustamante is not an isolated case: skepticism towards crypto could even unite developers, entrepreneurs and other tech players. ” Blockchain technology is a wreck. For its intended use, whether we think of it as payment or banking technology, it’s more than useless — an incredibly inefficient non-solution whose most impressive features are things we don’t want. », concluded Luke Plant lapidarilycore dev of Django, a framework in Python to facilitate the creation of web applications, in its advocacy against Bitcoin.
According to these critics, there is an urgent need for an intellectual deconstruction of the entire narrative around cryptocurrency. ” A story that is based on technical, legal, social and economic absurdities that unfortunately require a lot of background knowledge to refute them “, worries the English programmer Stephen Diehl in the book of which he is the co-author Popping the Crypto Bubble.
Stephen Diehl assures that the technical ideas behind the creation of a digital rarity turn out to be completely absurd and that blockchain technology remains a dead end. Fueled by all these bad ideas, crypto would have metastasized in our society, both into a financial populist movement and a quasi-religious cult built around distrust of public institutions.
Tired of technological solutionism and the irrational exuberance of the markets, voices are being raised in tech to try to demonstrate that cryptomania will not work and protect against the spread of these harmful technologies before they become systemic and cause a new crisis.
“ Things are not going as well in the blockchain/crypto/web3 tech space as its proponents would have you believe Molly White, a professional computer engineer, points out on her site with the happily ironic name Web3 is going just great. In this personal project, Molly draws up an assumed “biased” inventory of events in the crypto ecosystem to take on a contradictory job in the face of the quantities of announcement effects and outlandish promises.
Anti-crypto resistance becomes institutionalized
Not content with the swarming personal initiatives and the protrusions of some big tech figures against crypto, the crowds of disbelievers obviously want to intensify their efforts of persuasion. In particular to influence the opinion of the leaders, with a view to cracking down as much as possible against the bitcoin industry.
Experts in networking, computing and other technological areas thus multiply their workloads as soon as the opportunity is given to them, up to the parliaments that open their doors to them. These crypto-skeptics want to evangelize the greatest number so that the debate is finally closed. With their own conclusion: blockchains and cryptos would remain devoid of any relevant use case.
This month was also held the first major conference dedicated to critics, the Crypto Policy Symposium. An event meant to promote a critical approach that is so lacking in the face of “ crypto utopia », while aiming the explanations at « bureaucrats so misinformed by lobbies.
At the end of this high mass of the “best critical minds”, the organizers of the symposium have already carried out a new structured action against the bitcoin industry by founding the Center for Emerging Technology Policy.
” As technology specialists, we have a responsibility to work with democratic institutions to ensure that the public interest is always placed above the individual interests of certain », The mission of the founders of this think tank is. “ Crypto-asset issues will require input from tech experts, ethicists, lawyers and policy makers working together to understand the future we are building together. »