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Let me preface this with: I'm an Ethereum noob, and the technology is difficult to grasp.

My question has a hypothetical scenario along with a few questions. I am having a hard time grasping how dapps actually work, and the moral implications of using them.

Example 1: A new coin launches on the ethereum network. We will call it coinX. This new coin also has a dapp that transmits messages and hosts content. A website. The nature of this content on coinX is morally reprehensible. Lets say they are pirates, or terrorists. Their dapp is used to communicate, share info, etc. My question is, by using the ethereum wallet which syncs with the blockchain is all of this data also synced to my computer? Am I openly helping to help host that content, send those messages, etc?

Example 2: slightly different. Ive seen that people can upload compressed audio into the blockchain that is then synced with everyone. If a community got together and crowd funded the gas needed to upload copywriten material (lets say a Beatles Album) into the blockchain .. then this album would be synced with everyone using a wallet, right? Isnt this problematic?

Example 3: New coin. Cat coin. My dapp serves a website that hosts 5 million cat photos. Are all these photos synced to everyone whom is using the ethereum wallet and syncing the blockchain?

Let me say that my original understanding was this: the blockchain only contains what ill call the API. Common programming code, functions, that dapps would use. It wouldnt contain the dapp code itself. OR, does the blockchain sync everything. All dapps and all their code?

What does syncing with the blockchain actually get me? If a coin launches that im fundamentally opposed to and do not wish to partake in, can I opt out, ensure my hardware isnt used for that purpose?

I hope these questions make sense and that my concern is understood.

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Example 1:

Cryptocurrency's use by criminals in nothing new. Yes it is possible for a terrorist network to create an Ethereum token and exchange it for other digital assets in exchange for goods or services. Terrorist organizations, pirates, or criminals could even accept donations with Ethereum.

Now, if there is illicit content or data stored in an Ethereum smart contract, when you host a copy of the blockchain you're acting as a peer on the network, so you are technically hosting that content.

However, because there's a gas cost associated with publishing on the blockchain, it's not practical to use Ethereum solely as a cloud storage platform. For that check out something like Storj. Or for hosting decentralized websites see IPFS.

Finally, if a terrorist organization is using Ethereum to transfer value, then by mining on the network and verifying transactions, you're also technically helping them ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Example 2:

Uploading audio deals with the same problem, you're uploading a large amount of data that costs gas. Even if you could get people to crowdfund the gas necessary, there are cheaper and more efficient ways to host content securely and decentrally.

Example 3:

You would never use Ethereum's blockchain to host 5 million cat photos for the reasons above.

The Morality Issue

Can cryptcurrency be used by criminals? Yes. Does using/buying Ethereum inadvertently aid terrorist organizations who also use Ethereum by helping to legitimize it as a currency? Yes.

But the same can be said about any fiat currencies. Sure crypto is tougher to track or control under conventional anti-money laundering legislation. But Ethereum can also be used by good people for a lot of good purposes, just as fiat currencies can be used by bad people.

Not least of all, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies can be used to disrupt governments and the people behind international banking systems who control the world by manipulating the global economy according to their best interest, centralizing power and control in the hands of a few since the end of WWII.

To name a few:

  • The Federal Reserve
  • European Central Bank
  • World Bank
  • International
  • Monetary Fund

Then there's always the issue of credit, where people living in poorer regions of Latin America or Africa can't get loans or credit through "trusted" central corporations/organizations, meaning they can't invest in themselves or their communities and thus remain in poverty.

And who could forget companies like Western Union that facilitate international bank transfers. I certainly don't think that it's ethical for a seasonal worker in California to have to pay 8% of their earnings to Western Union just to send money back home to their families in Mexico or Guatemala.

Just recently, Goldman Sachs bought $2.8 billion worth of Venezuelan bonds, while people in the country are rioting against government corruption and years of economic chaos, with a significant portion of the population looking towards cryptocurrencies like Ethereum or Monero as a safeguard for value.

Would you Copy a Car?

Yes. Let's go back to decentralized storage and the age-old 90s argument against digital piracy. There used to be an ad against piracy claiming that you wouldn't copy a car so it is just as wrong to copy copyrighted content. But my argument was always that if I could copy a car, I would.

The technology is here. People can and will copy and share data as long as it's in their best interest to do so. We have to expect that individuals will always seek to act in their own best interest. It's human nature.

Conclusion:

You can decide for yourself whether or not cryptocurrencies like Ethereum are in line with your personal morality. But that's an individual decision. The technology is here, and it is disruptive. But it's disruptive for a reason.

From more transparent governments, to secure voting mechanisms, to uncensored media, and economic freedom, Ethereum and decentralization is about giving power back to the individual. And I believe that the benefits gained from a broad acceptance of the technology far exceeds the bad that can come from a select few who seek to abuse it.

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