Video Of The Week: Ben Horowitz on Crypto

This is a short clip from a longer conversation that Ben Horowitz did at Disrupt a few weeks ago.

In this clip, Ben describes crypto as a new kind of computing platform that is worse in every way (right now) but one.


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    “…in every way (right now) but one.”but the irony is that one does have to trust (a crypto ICO founder) to reach the promised land of transactions sans trust. the vast majority of these founders are storytellers of works of fiction. they should be exposed as such.Edit 14 :57 GMT;from 16:40 in the full interview. “pro bias” – is this the new ‘positive discrimination’? it gets ever more contorted.if you want a good lawyer you get a Jewish lawyer? i didn’t know that. thanks Ben, but i sensed that part of you wasn’t joking. i sensed the audience sensed that also. trading cultural stereotypes and having a cultural fund? good luck with that.

  2. Vendita Auto

    Trust the maths ? Turing ref Enigma or today’s Claude Shannon’s out to play with Qbit small machine interoperability systems. Trust (micius) satellite encryption systems for “now” Loved the “The Dark Forest”

  3. Guy Lepage

    I feel the most important thing is to always invest in real things that follow an ethical path. It may not make you a quick buck but throughout history we’ve seen those with a long and steady path tend to win more often in the long run.My bet is on those working hard to solve problems.

    1. JLM

      .If one is going to get to the pay window, one has to solve the right problem.We get paid in cash, ego enrichment, self-esteem nourishment, but my favorite is ……….JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. LE

      invest in real things that follow an ethical pathInvest in things that provide value to someone and will continue to do so.For example some might say that casinos, porn or guns is not ethical. But is selling expensive clothing then ethical or is it a waste of money and resources? What about expensive restaurant meals? Who is to say that the entertainment or pleasure that is not important to you is not ethical?Is religion ethical? Most would say that it is because they have been brainwashed to simply accept that fact and would never question something that clearly manipulates people for it’s own self serving purposes.Think it’s that simple it’s not. If I am manipulated into buying a particular car by their marketing message which is structured to get me to part with my money and I am happy with that fact what is unethical about that manipulation?

      1. Guy Lepage

        By “real things” I meant value.

  4. LE

    Ben has done a world class bad job if his goal is to try and make a point about what the future holds in crypto blockchain. And does it with a certain smugness that just cries ‘you just don’t get it haha obviously your loss!’.To presumably prove his point (and keep in mind that this is on stage at a conference and not ‘overheard’ after a few drinks at a restaurant’) he says:(with crypto you can) program law and contracts and you don’t have to worry about a corrupt lawyer you don’t have to trust the lawyer you don’t have to trust the judge you can program digital property so you can build art that only one person owns and you don’t have to trust the broker or somebody who might be faking itFaking what? Trust what? Is there some mass of ‘corrupt’ lawyers and ‘dishonest brokers’ that are floating around taking money from people and duping them under the radar of the bar association? How is this a problem that is happening on a scale that we need a solution (like crypto or the blockchain) to improve the terrible situation that we are in. Why use this to prove your point? The smugness? It’s overstating the problem and the solution. It’s like me when I can talk circles around my wife because she doesn’t even know what I am talking about. It’s boring and no challenge. And no fun. So I stop when I see the deer in the headlights. The game is to easy.Art? People buy art because they like the art. It’s created by artists. The authenticity issue is handled around an existing and well oiled machine (if and when needed which is not even always the case) . Art is physical. So the idea that digital art somehow is going to take the world by storm over physical art simply because it’s limited and authentic in some way by crypto or the blockchain is really plain idiotic (in particular overstating the actual market and potential). Well maybe not idiotic but it’s not a good way to get people to buy into the pipe dream. And if you can’t clearly define what happens other than to say ‘in the past people thought similar of X and they were wrong’ then you are just guessing and/or a bad salesman. I really don’t get with a straight face supporting an argument with these types of examples. It detracts from anyone believing what you are saying.The crime “Failure to use the right examples to prove your point Ben”.Then this, even more foolish (additional charges filed):’reminds me of the dot com era every old weird bad company renamed themselves dot com so you have like woolworths dot com sears and roebuck dot com and then they are an internet company and their price goes up and everyone says ‘that’s idiotic that whole thing is stupid the internet is stupid I’m not investing any money in that’. It turned out the dumb thing was not to invest in the scam the dumb thing was to like give up on the internet because there was some stupid people in it and that I think is a big lesson from that eraThanks Elizabeth Holmes! Jennifer Lawrence will play you in the movie about your failed company. [1]Except that not only didn’t that happen, [2] but most people didn’t think ‘this is stupid the internet is stupid’. Didn’t happen. There was a bubble, companies failed, there were stupid ideas, but people kept using the fucking internet and it’s utility continued to grow. Even your aunt and your grandmother. This was not some kind of mass ‘vietnam war bad’ backlash after initial euphoria ‘let’s fight like Dad did in WW2’. And Sears was not a ‘weird old bad company’ during that time period. In 2003 Sears sold it’s financial and credit business to Citigroup for $32 billion dollars (about $44b in today’s dollars). And when is ‘old’ bad anyway? And what’s with using ‘weird’? I think it’s ‘weird’ to look like a conehead. How does that feel, Ben? Why is Sears which was throughout most of it’s history a great company ‘weird’?[1] Elizabeth Holmes thinks she is Steve:…[2] In particular those two companies did not do that ie ‘rename themselves’ so why use them as your example.. at least trot out or something like that which isn’t a match either because it wasn’t an existing company which is his point to try and give examples of what has happened with some PR stunts like Long Island Iced Tea changing it’s name to Long Blockchain [3].[3]……

    1. JLM

      .There is a huge amount of bullshit being slung that will amount to nothing in ten years. We will look back and laugh at some — not all — of this stuff.Just like the ICE got us to a place whereat we don’t need any more improvement, blockchain will get to a level of utility – talking to you, you future killer app — whereat improvement will not be useful.Got to run, well, actually I’m headed out to do some Segwaying.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. LE

        (Edit): I have done Ginger and it is fun.

    2. Salt Shaker

      “The authenticity issue is handled around an existing and well oiled machine.”There’s a fair amount of forgery and questionable provenance in the art industry. Wine too, with respect to high priced auctions.Wherever there are big money transactions there’s always unscrupulous folks looking to game the system by illicit means. Crypto, or more specifically blockchain, potentially can serve to legitimize authenticity.

      1. LE

        Crypto, or more specifically blockchain, potentially can serve to legitimize authenticity.Explain that with respect to physical art (as opposed to digital art) or for that matter a bottle of wine. In particular old wine the type that has value now. Or diamonds. With brand new art do we brand it with a number that is then immutable with respect to ownership on the block chain? With old art do we brand it with a number as well with respect to ownership on the blockchain? Is that the idea? (Ditto for wine bottles?). Where does the tattoo go and how is it affixed to the physical art?Note here even in this article it states that ‘between 70 and 90 percent of works that pass through FAEI turn out to be fake’. This is after the previous comment that ‘Experts estimate a full half of all artworks in circulation today are fake’ (a number pulled out of the ass btw). Sounds like ‘let’s just be conservative in our warning’.The ‘between 70 and 90’ alone is suspect. Which is it? Why are there two numbers and such a wide range if you are claiming you have an accurate way of making a determination of authenticity? And those are works that, for whatever reason, someone decided to have some kind of test done (and assumes the test is valid but let’s say it is).Like ‘50% of the people who said they thought they had a brain tumor, didn’t after checked by a doctor’ (or 50% did etc.). No way there is some random test of everyday art which includes the art that Fred picked up at the artist studio and hangs in his home or office. That is not included in the totals. Lastly do people even want to know the truth? Sure before they buy they probably would. But after? No.I am definitely not doubting the fraud aspect and agree it happens. Just saying the solution offered does not appear to be applicable to the current problem (which is why I am asking for an explanation of how it applies specifically).This is actually particularly ironic when talking about art anyway. Which is more or less the gold standard of ‘in the eyes of the beholder’ meets ‘the greater fool’ meets ‘sophistication signaling’.Edit:

        1. Salt Shaker

          Not sure who or what “tags the fish,” but museums and high end auction houses certainly have experts or specialists who presumably come to the table w/ high credibility. My neighbor in NYC thought he found a de Kooning. It took the specialists at Christie’s 6 months to determine it wasn’t. They sent it from one alleged de Kooning specialist to another, it was a collaborative, laborious process. My better half worked for a smaller NYC auction house. She recommended that her GP come in cause he was redecorating. The guy bought some turn of the century French or Italian pieces that the auction house had authenticated. He had someone authenticate and appraise post-purchase who said the furniture was just a good reproduction. Turned into a lawsuit. There needs to be a better system and blockchain can help w/ provenance and authentication, though again there will always be some subjectivity at origin.The devil is in the details.

          1. awaldstein

            You are right.Tagging for authenticity is not only a function of rarity it is a function of the information around the item.The cert programs for food in this country are a complete mess.The idea that lot #s could be rethought to carry the complete record of every ingredient in every product would make things like recalls an instant response not a weeks long slog through imperfect records.The issue today is not what could be is the rational to finance the building of these AND the work to make the consumers trust them.

      2. cavepainting

        How does crypto really solve authenticity?- Private keys can be hacked. – The mapping of a key pair to a real world identity is still tenuous at best. No one has really solved it yet. Who is to trust if a certain key pair truly belongs to who the person claims to be?- Attestations can again be duplicitous because of the difficulty in linking real world identity to crypto.Blockchain is trustless as it relates to transfer of digital value (because of the elimination of intermediary and the nature of the distributed ledger).But when we extrapolate it to real world things, we are on a very slippery slope..

        1. Salt Shaker

          Nothing is truly failsafe. There’s a workaround for virtually all roadblocks. Authentication for works of art is pretty rudimentary and often quite subjective. Hardly an exact science. Adding another layer of protection via blockchain can help minimize those concerns, but again it is hardly failsafe.

          1. LE

            Adding another layer of protection via blockchainThis would only be for newly created art and do nothing for the existing legacy art market unless the prior transactions were assumed to be legit. How much money changes hands in the art world for this type of art (newly created) vs. legacy art which sells at auctions. How many artists are talented enough that this even will matter. To how many art buyers (of that market) does it really even matter? If I buy a $1500 piece of art for the dining room do I even care about this?I am not saying that there isn’t a use or potential market (to be kind). Just that a discussion of it (by Ben) as if it’s some kind of big thing (at this point in time) is way way overblown.…The “Camaro vs. Firebird” story illustrates. Back in the day we shopped both Pontiac and Chevrolet. My Dad asked the salesman why the Firebird cost more than the Camaro. The salesman answered ‘well for example the glovebox in the Firebird is metal and in the Camaro it’s Plastic”. My dad said ‘well if that’s the best you can offer I am buying the Camaro”. So my point is the benefits are not being presented in a way that sounds earth shattering in any way. And sure they might be there but he has not done much to sell it with those examples.I sell things. I can clearly tell you the benefits of paying more money for the things that I sell and I can do it in a way that will make you want to buy those things and/or pay me more money in most cases.

          2. Salt Shaker

            There’s value in knowing something you buy is legit, right? The value prop here on mass marketed art is at best negligible, while the value prop on high end art ($100K+) is not. The number of transactions will be small, but the cumulative dollar value will be in the multi-millions. If you’re buying a piece of art for $100K, and getting an added layer of authenticity (re: peace of mind) costs you $5K, it’s prob a worthwhile incremental investment (as a simplistic example).

          3. cavepainting

            You are absolutely right. The question is how we think blockchain provides that extra layer of guarantee and protection and why will that be much better than centralized alternatives. As long as there is a strong basis for proving identity of the attesters and users claiming expertise, it can definitely work. But that is no easy problem to solve.I believe that every blockchain carries the burden of proof for getting a job done better than current alternatives. Coordination can be done through code and incentives be awarded through coins, but does it all add up to get the user job done faster, cheaper, securely, smarter, or better? Wrote more here:…I am no skeptic and am a fan of the decentralized movement, but am really not convinced of use cases like provenance and authenticity where the problem is one of people lying, unwilling to put opinions on the public record, etc.

    3. jason wright

      another world class storyteller?

  5. Richard

    Wow, Ben needs some coffee!! With the greed cycle over, Crypto now needs an audience and a villain. It decided that it’s audience is the progressive socialists and it’s villain is big government. “Does not compute”

    1. jason wright

      “…progressive socialists and its villain is big government.” – that’s the mantra of SV’s capitalist elite talking as they’re taking;…apparently Tesla (that’s everyone’s super hero Elon Musk, the darling of free market innovation and investment) has received $5 billion of public money so far to find out how to build cars. that’s a lot of weed and whiskey Elon.

  6. Chimpwithcans

    Digital art authentication. Why hasn’t this taken off and skyrocketed the music industry to its former glories?

  7. Andrew Frognille

    Scammers are a big problem for cryptocurrency

  8. Andrew Frognille

    No one can guarantee 100% safety