In the last couple of months there has been another wave of Bitcoin hype. It's amazing how fashion-driven the technology media is, and how they get excited about what are really very conspicuous pump-and-dump schemes.

If you believe the hype then everything will soon be on "the blockchain". It seems to me that the vast majority of folks using that term don't even understand what it means.

In technology years Bitcoin is a legacy system, about a decade old. It's not even really useful as a currency, and if you read the original Bitcoin paper describing what it's intended to achieve then it has already failed on its own terms. The intention was to disintermediate banks and other third parties (like exchanges or escrow services) and to have a simple way of implementing micropayments on the internet. That ambition still seems as far away now as it did in 2009.

I think I'd call myself a blockchain agnostic. In principle maybe there could be a cryptocurrency which was practical, behaved like physical cash (i.e. you can't trace the transaction history back in time), which didn't waste electricity and where the maintenance of the system (known as block solving) wasn't centrally controlled by a few companies in China. As far as I know though there isn't a cryptocurrency yet invented which mitigates all of the problems which Bitcoin has. If proof-of-work is involved and the system becomes popular enough then it's mathematically certain to become more and more centralized over time, and hence outside of democratic control and easier to arbitrarily manipulate for selfish gain.

Things like putting contracts or AI algorithms onto blockchains seem quite pointless, with very little to be gained by doing that. Perhaps there is a compelling case and I'm just not grokking it adequately. DNS might be a good use case for blockchains or append-only lists, particularly if IPv6 was ubiquitous so that everyone can have a unique address. But actually existing blockchains are quite inefficient and certainly aren't any kind of panacea for data storage or alleviating real-world problems of trust. If you need a distributed database then there are probably better solutions out there.