Block Mirror: 3 ways Blockchain could make life a dystopian futuristic nightmare
December 16, 2018 by Robert DeVoe
We all think of blockchain technology as an entity that grants the change, democratization and freedom that will bring humanity into a new utopia. But what if it's not true? What if, blockchain brings in an era of technology like crazy Black Mirror? In this article, we will examine some possible scenarios in which blockchain could become your worst futuristic nightmare come to life.
Read also: Stablecoins: Bad Money for the modern age
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1 – An irreversible social credit nightmare
In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party has launched a system to which it refers as social credit. The idea is that practically everything you do is tracked, classified and evaluated.
Paying your debts late, not paying your traffic tickets and even buying too many video games according to some reports will lower your score. If your score goes down too much, your ability to interact with society decreases quickly and in a potentially terrifying way. You may find yourself unable to get a loan at home or in the car, attend university or even buy air or rail tickets.
But what does this come with blockchain?
Many projects have emerged that could be those that eventually become social credit systems for the rest of the world. These systems claim to offer an alternative to the existing credit system as it tends to be too regional and only controlled by some for-profit companies such as Equifax and Trans Union.
Credit reports are not just for determining whether or not you can get your new shiny metal credit card. They can be used to determine your eligibility for renting an apartment, finding a job, buying or renting a vehicle, and a growing list of other critical parts of life.
If there is a mistake in your credit report today, there is a good chance that with some effort you can have it removed or corrected. But what would happen if we relied on a completely decentralized system without a customer support team or complaints department?
What would happen if, instead, such a system worked more like a database that allowed only authorized users to create entries? Furthermore, since the system is based on blockchain, everything contained therein is permanent and can never be removed.
Imagine now living in this hypothetical future of social credit blockchain.
You wake up and get ready to go to work. Take out your smartphone and try to book a ride through a ride sharing service, only to find out that all your requests are immediately rejected. Call your boss to inform them that you will be late just to hear you say you were fired by top management without further explanation.
In panic, open your social credit app and see that your score has dropped by hundreds of points for no apparent reason. Perhaps your identity has been confused with someone else, and instead some evil deed has been attributed to you. The social credit system blockchain has no employees, does not have an office and does not have a telephone number, there is no place to appeal.
In a moment, your digital life, and by extension your real life, has been destroyed. Now your ability to get critical services like transportation, loans, jobs and housing is over. And there's nothing you can do about it. The police or the justice system can not help you because the system exists internationally and beyond the control of any government.
2 – Anonymous black markets and assassination bets
Even though the Silk Road market is behind us, there are still anonymous online black markets powered by cryptocurrencies. While it is difficult to get accurate information on their numbers, it is conceivable that today's markets see even more activity than the original creation of Dread Pirate Roberts.
These anonymous markets are not anything new, though. Yes, there is the threat of buying weapons, bomb-making materials and other dangerous or illegal objects. But an unstoppable, completely anonymous black market negotiation service that can never be removed as the site itself exists in a decentralized manner could usher in a new era of illicit trade around the world.
But it is not just the trade in objects that makes us stop. It is also the idea of the assassination markets that come to life. Concerns were raised prior to the launch of platforms such as Augur and Gnosis that forecast markets would lead to so-called assassination markets. Here's how they work.
In a forecast market, someone places a bet on the result of an event. The predictions could vary from the trivial, as if it rained tomorrow in Luxembourg, up to the extreme, like the one that will be the cause of the death of a certain celebrity or public figure, or will say that the public figure dies within a certain period of time. .
An assassination market is one in which an anonymous individual makes a prediction about when a specific person will die. If an aspiring killer wants to make a lot of money quickly, he could make a massive bet on the day they plan to eliminate their goal.
Once their prediction has come true (since they have done so, presumably), they will receive a massive payment from the forecasts market.
Assassination markets could lead to all kinds of high-profile deaths and assassination attempts that could shake the foundations of our society as we know it. While these types of markets have so far not caused any real damage, the fact is that they already exist.
3 – DAO unstoppable, relentless nightmare
The idea of a DAO dates back to the dawn of Ethereum. For those who do not know it, a DAO, or a decentralized autonomous organization, is a kind of society that exists entirely on a blockchain. It does everything by itself in an autonomous way and is guided by a logic of decision codified in smart contracts.
The idea of DAO has unleashed imagination all over the world, with many trying to imagine what such a self-guided and automatic entity can achieve. A DAO can manage its accounts and hire and get paid for various things without the need for human intervention.
But if someone created a DAO for the sole purpose of causing pain, suffering or even death to as many people as possible? This idea is what we call a nightmare DAO.
Nightmarish DAOs would probably exist in two different forms. One would be a rented DAO that would be a hitman, and another would be more like a computer virus, working alone with the sole goal of causing the greatest possible damage.
In many ways, a self-guided nightmare DAO is just like a computer virus. It may have been created by someone not to try to earn them a profit, but instead to directly cause the greatest possible harm to society.
Imagine now, if you want, a nightmare DAO that does nothing but redeem from ransomware attacks, then uses the money raised to hire lawyers to file lawsuits against a randomly chosen target from a database. This kind of assault could cause someone to get stuck in permanent legal hell that will essentially never end.
Imagine another DAO nightmare that steals money through automatic phishing attacks and then uses it to rent botnets to call phone numbers on a list of results endlessly, and leave threatening messages. Perhaps it could also call the police agencies to present similar reports to SWAT.
Worse, imagine a DAO nightmare par excellence that does everything possible to completely ruin the life of a person with the intent of trying to convince them to commit suicide. It could hire hackers to access e-mails and target bank accounts and publish the private information of the target as widely as possible.
He could call the target's employer to pretend to be a crazy ex-spouse. He could file a lawsuit after a legal action in an attempt to obtain all the assets of the individual seized under false pretenses. The list of potential ways to torture someone remotely and autonomously is infinite.
And nightmarish DAOs may not act randomly. They could be a sort of digital killer to be hired through the previously mentioned black market networks. Do you want to take revenge on someone and that is completely untraceable? A nightmarish DAO to hire could just be the ticket. Just send bitcoin or ether to a smart contract along with the details of your goal.
Maybe not today, but sooner than you think
The good news is that most of these ideas are still far away many years before. Or we could be lucky, and none of them will come true. But the crux of the matter is that while blockchain is a fantastic technology that can be used to promote the good of humanity, just like the Internet, it can easily be turned upside down and used for evil purposes.
Say yours. Are any of these adverse results plausible on a large scale?
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