The year is 1958. A young physicist named William Higinbotham works at Brookhaven National Laboratory developing new technologies for the US arms race with the Russians. The laboratory where Higinbotham worked had a few very early computers, dedicated to calculating trajectories of ballistic missiles.
William Higinbotham noticed that the computers provided for trajectory calculations can be hooked up to an oscilloscope to enternain bored guests during the visitor days at the lab. Thus came to be the very first video game ever – tennis for two.
The game was silly, simple and arguably a complete waste of Higinbotham’s time, resources of the laboratory and computing power.
Fast forward to 2018. The approximate (video) gaming market is valued at about $115 billion (!) dollars and is growing exponentially every year. Estimated to reach $128 billion by 2020. That statistic includes casual, mobile, social and free-to-play games on top of the traditional gaming.
One man’s trash is future man’s crushing disappointment in themselves for not taking trash seriously back when it was just trash. Have you ever ridiculed something that is quite frankly very prone to ridicule, only for it to turn into something completely different and utterly unrecognizable?
That said, these cases are few and far between. Today let us look at some pretty ridiculous blockchain uses that really are pretty dumb, yet might prove us all wrong in the future.
Crypto Gaming Mania
Remember CryptoKitties? Those pesky felines straight up crashed the Ethereum network with their incredible boom in popularity. It felt like im back in school again, when everyone and their extended family would kill to get their hands on a Tomagochi. That was a short fad that is an excellent example of silly attempts at technology that simply went the way of the dodo. Will CryptoKitties go the same path?
Everyone had a cryptokitty/puppy/fishy/birdy/whatevery or if they did not, they really (like, really) wanted one. So much so that the top kitty goes for 100,000 ETH or even more. No, that is not a typo, they really expect someone to pay $65 Million for an imaginary pet.
Dont like pets? No worries. You can get yourself a cryptocountry. Buy digital Latvia from its current owner DOGE888 for just 19.71 ETH or $12,800 if Fiat if that is how you prefer your prices.
The blockhain powered ownership of intangible products does not stop there sadly. You can also own CryptoBots, CryptoCelebrities (seriously) and CryptoAllstars which is just a variation of CryptoCelebrities but limited mostly to Twitter stars. Honestly never knew there are any.
This last one takes the “Useless Blockchain Use” cake for now – CryptoPyramid game. Sounds familiar?
Because it is the good old Ponzy scheme in a Blockchain form. Instead of Bitcone(eeeeeee)ct they are pretty up front about it and the game itself is building a literal pyramid. Placing a block costs Ethereum and any blocks you placed your blocks on gets a cut of your ETH. Likewise if any other player, places their blocks on top of yours, you get a cut from theirs.
All of these “games” are borderline stupid. For now. Being the trailblazers in a brand new industry they may be laying groundwork for something truly spectacular in the future. William Higinbotham’s contributions certainly illustrate that very well.
That said, NBA superstars Stephen Curry’s debut as a CryptoKitty does not help me take this cryptogaming fad very seriously.
Gaming, however is not the only area when it comes to strange uses of blockchain technology.
No, that is not a new game. There are very beneficial if rather strange and brave uses of blockchain technology. For one, the French poultry manufacturing and distribution company Carrefour SA makes sure the bird you buy in your local grocery store had plenty of fresh air, free space to run around and balanced diet. Nobody wants to eat an unhappy chicken, right?
Food trace-ability can be a big problem. How does one check if the food you are about to put in your trolley is sourced locally, non-GMO and from the brand you prefer? Worse yet, how can you know that the proverbial sell-by date has not been replaced with new ones multiple times over?
One of my first jobs ever was in a beef processing and packing factory. I can tell you for a fact, not every piece of meat you see in supermarkets has accurate origin and sell-by data. It is very easy to get away with corner-cutting shenanigans like that. Blockchain prevents tampering and ensures product is fresh, has passed quality assurance and is safe to consume.
In UK, 2016 there was a string of E-Coli incidents where 2 people died and more than 150 were infected. Tracing the lettuce bags via blockchain would perhaps not have averted these incidents outright, but it would help food producers and distributers to recall affected produce much quicker and it would allow them to investigate the source of contamination.
This stands as a great example for strange yet very beneficial use of blockchain, even if many are scoffing at it and think it is pointless and useless use of this promising new tech.
Ever wanted to have your steak and eat it too? Take a picture of it and send over to the Steak Token to receive some BOV, a cryptocurrency that you mine by eating steak. Not. Even. Kidding.
These guys took the idea of “proof of stake” in a little different way and introduced the world’s first “proof of steak” token.
The token “pre-cook” has since ended and they don’t seem to accept new submissions. Bummer.
It seems that day by day a new outlandish use for blockchain is found. There are couples getting married on blockchain. You can buy gold without any of the hassle of actually owning the gold, all with the help of blockchain. Heck, even changing your companys name to something with blockchain apparently helps. Long Island Ice Tea company in US changed their official name to Long Blockchain and their shares suddenly skyrocketed!
Blockchain technology now reminds me of early internet, its evolution and subsequent Devolution. The World Wide Web began as a form of communication, digital libraries, connecting ideologies. Internet had noble future. Then the people got their hands on it and just a few decades later we have full spectrum uses of internet. Anything from gathering donations for war affected to streaming 10 hours of ridiculously catchy yet nonsensical music clips.
Brace yourselves, the strangest and most “useless” uses of blockchain are only yet to come.
Cover illustration artist soyrwoo, DeviantArt