Greetings cyber friends, and welcome to your weekly tech mashup.
This week was — oh my god — horrific 🤮. That's the THIRD TIME in the history of Horrific/Terrific that we've had a bonafide horrific week. My goodness. How can this BE?
- El Salvador's Bitcoin wallet is a tar-pit of lies and deciet
- Panama also want in on this ridiculous craze
- Not new: Bitcoin's energy consumption is unacceptable, and yet here we are.
🎵 Ominous music... Bitcoin.
Bitcoin news has really been grinding my RSS gears this week; I can summarise it all into this one sentence: Bitcoin is so bad for all of us, but we love it anyway! Oh Bitcoin, you infectious little scamp.
Here are the three key events that stuck out:
#1: Let's start with El Salvador: we all know that the key to solving societal inequities is cryptocurrency, which is why the government in El Salvador voted to make Bitcoin legal tender in June. 40% of people in El Salvador are on a low income, and a large portion of those do not have a bank account. They may have questions, such as...
- I'm busy. Why the flying fart should I care about Bitcoin?
- How do I even access this Bitcoin, the thing I am already struggling to care about?
- Is Bitcoin going to somehow make me less poor?
The answer to all three questions is: an app. It's a government-made wallet called Chivo. It was supposed to launch on Tuesday (e.g. Bitcoin Day), marking the beginning of Bitcoin's new legal tender status, but it all went wrong.
🧊 Cool facts:
- If you get the Chivo app, you automatically get $30 worth of Bitcoin in your wallet — so naturally a lot of people want to get the app just so they can get their $30, and not because they are excited about the prospect of Bitcoin.
- It was meant to go live on app stores at midnight, but it did not. A great start.
- At around 3am, Bukele tweeted saying that nothing was working because the wallet had DDOSed itself, overloaded with attempted KYC verifications. Really? At 3am? Okay...
Now that everyone can finally get the app, there are still some pretty pressing
problems deliberate features designed to shit on the poor: for one, the $30 of Bitcoin you get cannot be withdrawn as USD; you have to spend it at an outlet that also uses Chivo.
Furthermore, just downloading the app enters you into a strange legally binding contract: if you have Chivo, and someone wants to send you money in Bitcoin, you have to accept it — you cannot ask them to send you USD instead, that would be illegal...
Also, see this tweet:
Chivo also asks you to grant access to your microphone. Why? The reason for this, and everything else mentioned here, is because it's a cheap piece of crap app designed by oppressive capitalists, in order to use those who have already been oppressed by them as a testing ground for backward, exploitative technologies, under the guise of 'helping'. I am now dry-heaving because I've run out of puke; my stomach is EMPTY, everybody 🤮.
#2: Now over to Panama: they want to make Bitcoin legal tender too! Wow look at everyone jumping on this train of horrors. The congressman who put forward the bill says it has the potential to create jobs, attract investment, and foster government transparency. I will explain how:
- It will create jobs because someone has to build and maintain gruesome wallets like Chivo – and any scammy fakes that pop up
- It will attract investment because someone needs to seed the above apps
- It will foster transparency because everyone — literally everyone — understands exactly how blockchains work, and clarity is the first step towards transparency.
#3: let's end with some depressing stats to keep you up at night (it's better than speed): the NY Times just released a study that outlines how much energy it takes to mine Bitcoin. Here's one horrifying broad stroke:
- In 2009, it took one quite normal computer and a few seconds worth of household power to mine one Bitcoin.
- Today, it takes 9 years worth of electricity from an average household in the US to mine one stupid Bitcoin.
Now all we have to do is calculate the energy it will take to rid the world of all cryptocurrencies, and then do a cost-benefit analysis to see if it's even worth it.
🤖 Here are some other ways powerful people have tea-bagged the poor with tech this week
The Kenyan government are paying citizens up to $15 a day to spread disinformation on Twitter about their controversial 'Building Bridges Initiative' (BBI). This disinformation seeks to undermine a recent ruling by the Kenyan high court, which said that the BBI was unconstitutional. Verified accounts have participated, and the campaign has also included Twitter ads, which means Twitter is profiting from disinformation.
Perhaps the Kenyan government should take tips from Brazil, who instead are just going to ban, uh... banning. President Bolsonaro wants to combat the 'arbitrary removal' of social media accounts in the name of every racist misogynist's favourite thing: free speech. Yes, it's an election year...
That's everything! I hope you spend your weekend doing something fun like having sex, playing sports, or eating ice cream. Goodbye!