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According to some skeptics, cryptocurrency may not be the decentralized, equal-investment opportunity that many believe it to be.
The vast crypto world, which includes blockchain-backed technologies such as digital currencies, non-fungible tokens, internet organizations, play-to-earn video games, the metaverse, and Web3, has what researcher Catherine Flick refers to as a "colonialist mindset," which she claims is based on central entities and low-paid workers.
"These individuals are kind of sailing their ships across the sea to get there first and post their flags and get the money," said Flick, a researcher at De Montfort University's School of Computer Science and Informatics. "But at the price of the people who perform the work, who are less likely to make the same kinds of profits and are more likely to be exploited or unaware of what they're getting into."
She claims that the workers, including the artists behind collections of digital tokens known as NFTs, get paid less than their fair part of the revenues. According to a Wired story, the artist behind the popular Bored Ape Yacht Club collection, which includes 10,000 pieces of art, claimed her income was "certainly not ideal."
Flick, who has performed study on themes such as video game ethics and technical innovation, is one of a number of critics who have lately surfaced to urge investors not to get caught up in the frenzy. Dan Olson, a crypto critic and YouTube star with 6 million views on his video on NFTs, branded crypto a "greater idiot con" whose beliefs are "seriously damaging to the fabric of our civilization."
Flick identifies a significant omission. One of the key ideas of cryptocurrency is that it is "decentralized," meaning that no single person, organization, or government controls it. But, as she points out, "we've witnessed the recentralization of so much of the ostensibly decentralized things."
Yuga Labs, the startup behind Bored Ape Yacht Club, for example, bought Larva Labs' immensely popular NFT collection CryptoPunks as well as Meebits. As a result, the company now controls two of the most valued NFT projects on the market.
Molly White, a crypto critic who operates the satirical Twitter account "web3 is doing just wonderful," reacted to the news by saying, "Nothing really shouts 'decentralized' like one firm holding the priciest and most popular NFT collections!"
Another example of centralization, according to Flick, is NFT exchanges, where buyers and sellers may trade digital valuables. She believes that if the market is genuinely decentralized, it should be simple for anyone to sell NFTs on their own. But, as Flick pointed out, "culture doesn't function that that."
"We see centralization because consumers want it to be simple to use, to be able to see what's for sale, and to have good user interfaces since they don't comprehend it. They don't want to comprehend it. They probably don't care for the most part "She stated. "It's like the old adage: you don't need to know how your automobile works to drive it."
Cryptocurrency has gained popularity in recent years. The market capitalization of bitcoin and other tokens surpassed $3 trillion in 2021 before falling down, while NFT sales surpassed $40 billion.
Flick, on the other hand, is pessimistic about the wild gains: Be cautious while investing; it will surely fail.
"People that got in early usually win, so you're not going to be one of them. And those who lose will be the ones who are left carrying the bag."
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