Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are a pretty stupid idea. Not only do they legally not guarantee ownership of anything, the very idea they represent is inherently flawed.
People wanted me to explain my stance on NFTs, so on today’s episode of The Private Citizen, I am going to do just that.
What Are NFTs?
After explaining blockchains in the previous episode, it is now time to look at how non-fungible tokens work. Basically, an NFT is information stored in a blockchain database that is then traded much like a cryptocurrency is. But with NFTs, the information that is being stored isn’t a transfer of a sum of digital money (a fungible token) to another owner, it’s the transfer of a digital object (a non-fungible token). This could be digital art, files or video game objects listed under a certain URL. In essence, an NFT is a type of smart contract.
What’s Wrong with NFTs?
NFTs have two major problems. The first one is inherent in the technology. Wikipedia describes this problem well, as follows:
Proponents of NFTs claim that NFTs provide a public certificate of authenticity or proof of ownership, but the legal rights conveyed by an NFT can be uncertain. The ownership of an NFT as defined by the blockchain has no inherent legal meaning, and does not necessarily grant copyright, intellectual property rights, or other legal rights over its associated digital file. An NFT does not restrict the sharing or copying of its associated digital file, and does not prevent the creation of NFTs that reference identical files.
The other problem is more of a problem with the very idea of selling ownership to digital assets. Since digital assets are inherently copiable, and must be copied in the very process of digital information storage and retrieval, trying to impose an artificial regime to make them uncopiable is a contradiction in terms. It is a futile goal, and any system designed to achieve it, is inherently flawed.
Additional links for this episode:
- Larissa Schwarz on Twitter
- Simon Stålenhag on Twitter
- The Guardian: Square Enix sells its western studios and hits such as Tomb Raider for $300m
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Thanks and Credits
I’d like to credit everyone who’s helped with any aspect of this production and thus became a part of the show. I am thankful to the following people, who have supported this episode through Patreon and PayPal and thus keep this show on the air:
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