The Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) has undoubtedly revolutionized the art industry as any other collectors items. NFT’s value is based upon its technological properties, as it can guarantee via blockchain the ownership of a digital asset. But, what if these files were corrupted or their safety compromised? Additionally, add many millions of dollars into the mix. Got your attention?
Recently, the NFT industry saw streams of social media buzz about the so-called The Bitcoin Dollar Torrent uploaded on The NFT Bay. This torrent file size is slightly larger than 17GB. It allegedly contained the JPEG images from all the NFTs in the Ethereum and the Solana blockchain.
BeInCrypto spoke to the artist, Geoffrey Huntley, to get a deeper insight into his work and intentions.
A controversial artwork
BeinCrypto (BIC): The Billion Dollar Torrent artwork aims to change the course of the NFT art sector. What would be your ideal scenario if it was successful?
Geoffrey Huntley (GH): Fundamentally, I hope through The NFT Bay people learn to understand what people are buying when purchasing NFT art right now. It is nothing more than directions on how to access or download an image. There is a gap of understanding between buyer and seller right now that is being used to exploit people.
It’s an educational art project.
BIC: Was it harder to cycle through many countries on a unicycle or assemble all the NFT’s from Solana and Ethereum?
GH: It was easier to put together the torrent than it is to ride a unicycle.
BIC: How did this idea pop up? Did you have a eureka moment?
GH: [I was just] shooting the shit with Stephen Diehl. We have both seen a programming language become over-indexed in the cryptocurrency space, and if things were ever to go belly up, I’m not sure Haskell would ever recover.
I came up with the idea, but Stephen came up with the name “The Billion-Dollar Tarball” from that point onwards, it was non-stop cackling intermixed with sleep deprivation to get the project launched.
Triggered by a Twitter Space
BIC: Which was the precise Twitter Space for NFT’s which triggered you and finally pushed you to create The Billion Dollar Torrent?
GH: The Twitter Space of Dominique Hamilton.
BIC: How long did it take to complete the project?
GH: About three days from beginning to launch.
BIC: Will the ~17 GB of The Billion Dollar Torrent be expanded? Will it update as new NFT’s arrive?
GH: This is a one-time thing and will soon be uploading the project in its entirety to the Internet Archive for future generations to study.
BIC: Are you planning to create further actions in the crypto scene, or is your craft now complete?
GH: One of the co-founders of Razor1911 stumbled upon “the scene release” and had the following to say:
I’m done (for now at least) but will be hanging around Web 3 space. If people want to keep up to date with what I’m doing, the best way is via my newsletter. In a couple of weeks’ time, I intend to author a retrospective blog post that recaps the entire timeline and people’s reactions.
BIC: Do you think some malicious actors may use the data of The Billion Dollar Torrent to exploit non-savvy users?
GH: No. I am comfortable that this won’t happen.
BIC: Are you afraid of possible legal issues for creating this torrent from art owners or law institutions?
GH: From what I’ve seen, many artists are quite happy with the website. If someone wishes for content to be removed, the DMCA takedown process is documented in the footer of The NFT Bay.
Scams despite the noble goals
BIC: The NFT market is vast. There is clearly a hype surrounding this new market and, of course, scams hunting for new victims or pump-and-dump schemes. Don’t you think it may be too unfair to condemn the whole industry? Do you see noble actors in the NFT space?
GH: What people dream to build with “Web 3” is quite amazing but the greed/scamming going on is sickening. The dreams for a different future remind me of the internet in the 1990s. What’s fascinating here is the communities are very strong and can self-fund the discovery phase while searching for applications.
The early internet was built on a gift economy (i.e., hippies), yet what people seek to build now is capitalistic and full of pump and dump schemes. Perverse incentives related to money are well understood. At this time, I don’t quite yet see how the industry will resolve problems created by money.
BIC: Are you highlighting the same unsafe properties of NFTs as discovered by Jonty Wareing back in March? He pointed out unsafe properties of the NFT token of the famous Beeple NFT artwork Crossroad as an example? In general, would you say NFT’s are safe or unsafe?
GH: I was unfamiliar with Jonty Wareing’s work. Anyone trading/speculating with NFTs should only be doing so with play money that they are willing to lose as there are lots of shady stuff and liquidity issues behind the scenes.
An NFT, of an NFT, NFT’ed
BIC: In a possible twist, are you afraid that this artwork may become an NFT without your consent?
GH: It already has, and we are now into inception territory. VincentVanDough NFT’ed the website and commented that he would buy me a new van if the sale were to pass six figures. Unfortunately, I won’t be getting a new van because the transaction closed at a mere $17,645.42. In response to this, I’ve NFT’ed his NFT with funds being diverted towards Outreachy Internships.
Protecting yourself in the world of NFTs
BIC: How can users check thoroughly that their NFT is really on the blockchain and not hosted in an unsecured Web 2.0?
GH: There are a couple of tools out there, such as Checkmynft.com, which essentially looks at the contract definition. If anybody wishes to learn how to do this, then Richard Gaywood has an excellent thread that walks through how to do this.
BIC: Do you see a future in Web 3.0 or simply another buzzy word being exploited as it was blockchain years ago?
GH: I’m optimistic that people will discover an application for web 3.0, but the community needs to self-regulate before government financial regulators steps in for them.
The launch of thenftbay.org caught the attention of two countries and their departments that regulate the financial systems, including banks and insurance companies. Again, the community needs to self-regulate before government financial regulators step in; otherwise, the application for web 3.0 may never be discovered.
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