Web3 Being Not Very Good Is Not A Conspiracy
I saw this tweet getting some attention over the last couple days. It’s from Sriram Krishnan, a general partner with the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. If you haven’t been following exactly how deep into crypto Andreessen Horowitz is at the moment, last month, the firm raised a $4.5 billion crypto fund. And that’s the fourth crypto fund they’ve raised. Last June, they announced a $2.2 billion crypto fund. It is safe to say that they are very much all-in on crypto.
Which makes sense. Venture capitalists invest money to make money. So, of course, they would be drawn to a technology that promises to turn money itself into a pathway for making more money. Blockchain technology is essentially the greatest thing that venture capitalists could ever imagine. Crypto companies run on money that will supposedly accrue more value over time as it becomes more adopted by mainstream users. And, Web3, in particular, is ideologically focused on turning every part of the internet into something that costs money to use. What a great deal!
Except, so far, it all sucks. Long-time Garbage Day readers know that I have tried to work through new developments in the Web3 space as they come. I’ve tried to find use cases for crypto and, so far, I have come up completely empty. I have not encountered anything that runs on a blockchain that works better and is easier for users than something that doesn’t. I’ve messed around with NFTs, lurked in a few DAOs, tried to buy a few things with crypto coins, used a couple staking systems, went to a literal Bitcoin convention, and even booted up Axie Infinity, the most successful blockchain-based video game to date. And, in every instance, it all kind of sucked shit.
I have to think that venture capitalists like the ones at Andreessen Horowitz have to know this. I have to assume that any person who has ever used a computer before who engages with blockchain technology has to recognize that this all sucks shit. I mean, how could anyone look at a game like Grit and think this is the future of anything:
This is gameplay from a new blockchain-based game coming out on the Epic Games store, the developer and publisher of Fortnite. It’s a third-person cowboy-themed battle royale game. The video was shared by brycent, a Web3 gaming evangelist and Twitch streamer, who later clarified, “Twitter destroyed the quality completely, in person the game looks sick and plays very well!”
Yeah, it looks sick for an arcade game in 2004. It doesn’t look very sick when you consider that the game will feature “gunslinger boxes” that cost $1500 worth of Ethereum to buy. The whole thing is ridiculous.
According to Kotaku, a representative for Gala Games, the developer of Grit, asked the audience at a recent live event, “Why would you play any game where you don’t own what you buy in the game?”
Which is what everyone who works in Web3 is saying. But it’s not true. I look this up pretty regularly. There is not a single NFT or blockchain-based video game that lets you use assets from another game. Gala Games will not let you use your Axie Infinity NFTs in Grit. Why would they? And how would that even work? An NFT isn’t actually even the digital asset it represents in the game. If you buy an NFT shotgun in Grit and brought that NFT somehow over to another NFT-enabled game, there is literally no way for that other game to magically know that that NFT represents a shotgun!
The tweet below has a screenshot from a LinkedIn post from Nicolas Vereecke. He’s an investor with BITKRAFT Ventures and focuses on blockchain gaming. If you click through and read the whole thing, it describes a fantastical future where you grind for NFTs in one game and can then use those NFTs to buy things in another game. It’s outrageously bleak. It’s also displays an incredible misunderstanding of both why people like to play video games and how NFTs actually work. Which brings me to my main point here.
People who have a lot of money invested in Web3 think there must be some conspiracy behind people objecting to blockchain technology. In Krishnan’s tweet, he refers to opposition from the “podcast circuit,” which is a hilariously Silicon Valley way of understanding the current media landscape, but I digress. Krishnan hints at some kind of larger nefarious reason why people might be objecting to this technology. But, I can tell you, there is way more money to be made in Web3 than out of it. If I announced that Garbage Day was going crypto positive or even crypto ambivalent, said I was dedicating a team of writers to highlighting new crypto projects, and took my newsletter out to investors, I could easily raise a few million dollars. (I do have a sellout price tag. Interested in finding out what it is? Let’s talk!)
The one caveat I will put here in an effort of both-sides’ing this is that, yes, blockchain technology — and large-scale investment in it — is still very new. While the first Bitcoin, the “Genesis Block,” was mined in 2009, Ethereum, the blockchain responsible for the majority of Web3 innovation, didn’t come online until 2015. Which would mean right now we’re about as far away from the start of Ethereum as we were from technologist Darcy DiNucci coining the term “web 2.0” in 1999 when the first tweet was sent in 2006. That was probably convoluted, but I hope that helps lol.
The truth is that the flaws in blockchain technology are just simply unavoidable. Using a crypto wallet is awful. (To say nothing of how dumb calculating gas fees is.) Using trading exchanges is a mess. NFT Discords are constantly being targeted by phishing scams. NFT video games are expensive, slow, ugly, and routinely rugpull their own players. None of this is good for anyone except for the folks who think they’re going to make a bunch of money out of it. Which leads me to one real conclusion here: Anyone who is breathlessly telling you Web3 is the future of anything has either never used any of the technology they’re promoting, doesn’t understand how it works on a fundamental level, is lying to themselves, is lying to you, or all of the above.
Now who do I talk to about getting my anti-crypto dark money for this essay?
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An A.I. Wrote 30,000 4chan Posts
A YouTuber and researcher named Yannic Kilcher created a wildly unethical artificial intelligence called GPT-4chan that, as you may have guessed, was trained with 3.3 million threads from 4chan’s /pol/. If you aren’t familiar with 4chan sub-boards, /pol/ is the politics board and it’s one of the most violent and racist sections on the site.
Worse than just making this horrible thing, Kilcher then set it loose on the site. It has commented 30,000 times since coming online. In the first 24 hours the bot was active on the site, it was responsible for about 10% of the content on /pol/. Apparently, users did begin to notice, though, I’m skeptical the majority did. Can you really tell the difference between a 4chan user and an automated bot that just posts the n-word? Not so sure. But, if you didn’t think it could be any more horrible, Kilcher then put the code on Github.
I’m not linking to any of this because I think what he did is actually very evil. VICE, though, has a great story pulling together the horrified reactions from the artificial intelligence research community.
“He performed human experiments without informing users, without consent or oversight. This breaches every principle of human research ethics,” Lauren Oakden-Rayner, a senior research fellow at Australian Institute for Machine Learning, tweeted.
Admittedly, I was so distracted by the implications of an open source 4chan-trained A.I. that I hadn’t actually also considered the ethics of testing this out on 4chan users without their consent because I don’t really view them as people, but it’s a fair consideration!
A Piece Of Content So Outrageous I Finally Don’t Have A Take On It
On Monday, the official Twitter account for Crazy Frog — the cartoon EDM frog that makes ringtone music — photoshopped Crazy Frog into a picture of Elon Musk standing with Ghislaine Maxwell and tweeted it at Musk. I assumed that by the time the next Garbage Day issue rolled around I’d have some kind of coherent thought to share about what this means.
I’m honestly at a loss. It’s so deeply unhinged and, forgive me, crazy, that I really don’t know how to handle it. I can’t even tell how I’m supposed to interpret it. What does it mean???
The Luna Crash Was Much Worse For Indian Investors
I wanted to highlight this story from Bloomberg about the tax implications of the Terra crash for Indian investors. In the US, crypto traders have to pay a capital gains tax on crypto, which includes any type of transaction. Buy a coffee with Bitcoin? Better keep that receipt. It also includes “converting” one cryptocurrency for another, which isn’t actually converting, but really just buying one with the other. One way to off-set the wild capital gains that you could accrue from messing with crypto in the US is by holding it. You’re only taxed if it leaves the cryptocurrency the value is being stored in. The other way is through what’s called “wash trading,” where you sell your crypto when its down and immediately buy it back, which would result in a net loss for the year. Crypto critics say this shouldn’t be legal. Advocates for cryptocurrency being used as a real currency say there shouldn’t be any capital gains on crypto at all.
In India, things are bit different. According to Bloomberg, as of April 1, all income from cryptocurrency transfers — which seems to include crypto coins given away in airdrops — will be taxed at a flat 30% determined at the time the crypto was received regardless of its subsequent depreciation in value. As of this week, Luna Classic is down 99% in value and Luna 2.0, the would-be fix for the crashed ecosystem, is down over 50%. Things could be real ugly come next tax season.
Your Rich Southern Aunt Has An Amazing Real Estate Agent
While I have you here, if you’ve never watched Brian Jordan Alvarez’s The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo, please do. I’m comfortable saying it’s probably the best scripted YouTube series that’s ever been made.
The “Mega Slime”
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God, I hate this thing. I don’t have children, so I’m able to blissfully ignore “the slime craze” that seems to be sweeping through the nation at the moment. But apparently kids like to… make slime? All I know is that a few TikTokers have accidentally made napalm while trying to make slime.
Last month, a TikToker named @crohnbone shared a video of her sister’s “mega slime,” which is, apparently, “every bead, glitter, pigment, glue, foaming agent, and rhinestone in the house into it.” It is a sickly and terrifying shade of gray and it’s covered in hundreds of weird lumps. I hate it. (Here’s a Tumblr mirror if you want to see the mega slime.)
From YouTube To Real Life
I’ve featured Ichika Nito’s videos in Garbage Day before. He’s a guitarist who has spent the last few years making very twiddly and fun meme videos that are also really incredible guitar performances. It’s an interesting vibe, to say the least. The video above is the first time he’s played for a live audience in the US. It’s a cool example of what I think a lot of internet creators are going through right now where, after months of working on pandemic projects in their bedrooms, they’re finally taking them outside.
Some Stray Links
TikTok was a game-changer for Colombia’s most recent presidential election
“They used my identity to flog a doomed cryptocurrency – and then things got weird”
The genius behind the rubber nipples in Batman & Robin finally speaks
P.S. here’s a truly cursed TikTok (Tumblr mirror).
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***
Caleb Gallo! Your taste is immaculate
i can understand NFTs from a viewpoint of, like, ppl have been collecting virtual pokemon for ages and also it's 2022 and so many things are digital now and, although it doesn't appeal to me personally, i get it. however, the rest of it is just such garbage. i mean, “Why would you play any game where you don’t own what you buy in the game?” what? has this person ever even played a video game? you buy something, you own it for the life of the game, and if you want to look at it longingly after the game is gone, take a screenshot of it and save it to your computer. presto, free NFT. like i just always feel like i must be missing something when people talk about this shit.
anyway, in other news, i like slime. kids have been making it for generations. i'm 38, we made slime. we also had gak, floam, and other bizarro substances for playing with thanks to nickelodeon, to say nothing of silly putty and those sticky hands you'd get from the dentist or a quarter machine that would immediately get covered in dust and dirt and crumbs and hair and be disgusting. but it was fun. and still is, apparently! long live the megaslime.