A response to Jisu’s article, and additional comments

24 min readMar 20, 2021


This is a response to Jisu’s article about NFTs: https://jisuartist.medium.com/debunking-everything-about-the-technology-ecological-impact-of-nfts-cryptoart-60ee09bd00ed .

The statements in Jisu’s article are almost all either false or misleading; I will structure my responses to them in a point-by-point order below for clarity, and will try to make sure that surrounding context is properly addressed (i.e. I’m not attempting to take points randomly out of context). I will then address issues in Jisu’s article regarding sources in the next section.

Note: I will group the points below in the same section headings as Jisu’s, in order to make for both easier reading and easier responding/referencing for those who wish to challenge what I have written here. Thus, each section here is written specifically in address to the same named section of Jisu’s article.

Section: Why should I care about NFTs/Cryptocurrency?

It is worth noting that while cryptocurrency (e.g. Bitcoin) is expected to rise in value over time, it’s also very much likely to collapse — primarily as a result of the fact that it has no actual underlying value at all, and its entire value is based on speculation.

Most world currencies are fiat money, as Jisu pointed out. While this technically means they are not backed by a finite resource (e.g. gold), they are backed by the government that prints them, and thus valued on the economic stability and overall stability of that country; this makes them stable in most cases, though of course subject to inflation and deflation (USD, Euro, GBP). Most cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, aren’t backed by anything; there is no entity whose economics are the basis for the currency’s value. As a result giant swings in value are common as unlike the aforementioned real-world currencies, if investors doubt the value of a cryptocurrency, they cannot look at the entity’s stability to see how stable it is and thus try to gauge the currency’s real value or reliability. With real-world fiat money, governments can intervene to reassure investors of the value backing the currency, but with cryptocurrency — by nature — there is no overseeing authority, and no such reassurances can be made. This has led eight winners of the Nobel Memorial prize in Economic Sciences, and other prominent figures such as Warren Buffett, to characterise cryptocurrency as a speculative bubble.

So far the entire value of Bitcoin has only ever been a result of investor speculation, effectively a pyramid scheme — everybody hoping to make their profit before the inevitable collapse. Gamestop’s recent share price events are a similar example of this; although Gamestop shares do have an inherent value, their price in recent times has been almost entirely fuelled by speculation alone. Bitcoin doesn’t create productivity, add value, or have any useful purpose; the only way to make money from it is by other people buying into it, i.e. speculating that more people will join after them too.

A quote regarding Bitcoin from the Yahoo Finance article linked in the last paragraph:

“It’s a pyramid scheme,” LendingTree Chief Economist Tendayi Kapfidze tells Yahoo Finance. “You only make money based on people who enter after you.

“It has no real utility in the world. They’ve been trying to create a utility for it for ten years now. It’s a solution in search of a problem and it still hasn’t found a problem to solve.”

Subsection: So why are blockchains important?

This subsection is misleading. Blockchain doesn’t ‘fix’ or ‘improve’ anything about large data stores, i.e. relational databases; it was created partially as an alternative data structure, but also as a way to create decentralised data stores, i.e. not owned or controlled by any specific entity. Blockchain has better fault tolerance, but relational databases have superior performance as they don’t require huge redundancy like blockchain does.

There are a few reasons for this.

The first reason is because of what blockchain effectively is: a linked list of blocks, where in order to change a particular block without causing a discrepancy, you would have to change every block that came before it. Companies generally have their own databases and systems for obvious reasons (security and privacy), meaning that it would be easy to change the entire blockchain if you wanted to, just like any database; blockchain’s unique uses are only in decentralised applications without an ‘owner’ that controls the chain.

The second reason is that proof-of-work — the way in which most blockchains, particularly for cryptocurrency-related functions, determine the next block in the chain —only functions properly because of the combination of decentralisation, redundancy and massive scale. The reason that e.g. Bitcoin’s blockchain is practically impossible to modify is because of the sheer amount of time and computing power it would take anyone to do that is simply too high, as a result of just how many computers are mining it — and by Bitcoin’s proof-of-work (redundancy) design, the complexity of the puzzles required your computer/s must solve to write to the blockchain. This provides a protection of sorts against modifications (such as a Sybil attack), as modifying the entire blockchain would require both gargantuan processing power and a huge number of compromised machines, and since it’s public, other people would notice modification going on long before you could modify the entire blockchain to hide the evidence of that fact. You won’t be able to do that for your own company solution, making your blockchain easy to modify.

This is not to say that Blockchain technology is useless — it has quite a few uses — but being some sort of improvement on databases is not one of them. It’s better thought of as an alternative data structure with distinct strengths and weaknesses.

Subsection: Do NFTs have any real value?

The objective answer is no. I choose the word ‘objective’ carefully, because what other people may choose to value them at is provably nonsense — nonsense that they have a huge vested interest in pretending is not nonsense, in order to encourage more people to join the pyramid scheme and thus increase the value of their own money. This can be compared to an investor shilling shares of a company or currency they are invested in (notable examples); they are doing so out of a direct conflict of interest. Even if the company is privately known to the investor to be in huge trouble, making people think it is an attractive investment will cause people to buy it, raising the share price due to supply and demand (and allowing the shilling investor to recoup their losses or make a profit at the expense of those who listened to them).

For NFTs: much like choosing to value a traditional artwork for say $100m, the investor doesn’t believe the painting itself is worth anything like that price. They believe its ability to possibly be sold to another investor, who hopes to perform the same con (or the ability to offset future taxes by fiddling with the valuation in creative ways and donating an artwork at a much higher than true market price, shield assets from the eyes of authorities, or avoiding capital gains tax by selling in certain places), is worth that price. You could do the exact same things with literally any object — find a chunk of rock, and if investors think it’s worth $100m for the purposes listed above (justifying it on some fanciful grounds of e.g. a great historical figure trusted this chunk of rock for their meditation wisdom and got their best ideas from it), you can do the exact same thing. Some articles on this:

Washington Post: Mexican art market crashed 70% after new drug-money laws stopped anonymous cash purchases

Financial Times: EU introduced new regulations for art sales in 2016 after the relevations of the Panama Papers

New York Times: What the Panama Papers reveal about the art market

Economics Professor Nuriel Roubini, article on CNN, 2015: “The art market is shady”. A significant quote from this article:

An individual can purchase an expensive piece of art worth $1 million or more, pay in cash and not even have to register it. There are virtually no ties to the financial system.

This is similar to cryptocurrency, in which the identity of buyers and sellers is generally completely anonymous.

That value can be called malleable does not make it wholly or even partially subjective; the sole value of an NFT, just like the high-price traditional artworks that sell for millions, is in its ability to be used as either a tax evasion asset or as a greater fool investment — to sell to someone who will buy it for even more, hoping to do the exact same thing to yet another fool later. Indeed, huge numbers of traditional artworks languish in storage depots in order to avoid being damaged to ensure they retain their investment value (and stay out of the eyes of authorities looking to avoid them being smuggled to tax havens). As Will Gompertz wrote in the above BBC article:

“We all know that art has become a commodity, but I hadn’t realised until I went to the Free Port that it has become a tradable stock that never needs to see the light of day.

Those Picassos might never come out, remaining boxed-up in a cold corner as they shift from one owner’s capital assets balance sheet to another’s.

We can argue all day long about the meaning of art, but surely it isn’t that.” — Will Gompertz

You can also watch this video (it’s relatively long, but explains well the money laundering, tax evasion, and other things that the rare traditional art market enables).

I would also note that by far the most high-profile digital art NFT sale so far — Beeple’s — is reportedly not what it claims to be, as Jisu pointed out. So far there are very few NFT sales that don’t fall into this bracket, since almost every plausible buyer has a vested interest in the value of the cryptocurrencies themselves.

The reason for this is simple: buyers are not investing in artists at all. They’re speculating on the value of Ethereum, in the hope that their investment will make people more interested in investing in it themselves, in turn driving up the price so they can sell at a profit — aka a pyramid scheme (in the exact same way as e.g. Bitcoin, or Gamestop shares).

It had — if of course the reports are correct — very little to do with NFTs and much more to do with a mutual business arrangement of an exceptionally shady nature, to put it mildly.

Subsection: Claims about the ecological Impact of NFTs/Cryptocurrency

There isn’t any serious debate to be had about the ecological impact of NFTs. While it’s perfectly reasonable to state that current estimations of carbon emissions are just that — estimations with a lot of unknowns — it seems at best highly irresponsible to suggest that we should ignore those on no grounds other than “they could potentially be wrong, and since we don’t have absolutely infallible data let’s assume they are”.

First of all: Cryptocurrency mining, which at present NFTs are wholly reliant on to function, involves vast amounts of computing power which would not otherwise be expended. This of course wouldn’t be a problem on its own, but since a huge amount of e.g. Bitcoin mining is done in China (approx 65% of all mining) in which two-thirds of power relies on coal, the only question remaining is how severe that impact is. The University of Cambridge has a useful tool here:

As can be seen, the lower and upper estimates are wildly different, as a result of many factors that go into Bitcoin mining. What is clear, however, is that it is a huge impact no matter which way you look at it.

It’s perfectly true to say that for example, Bitcoin currently uses almost as much as — say — gaming/Youtube, which could be seen as small overall. There are two pieces of context to bear in mind, however:

  • NFTs add absolutely no intrinsic value (unlike YouTube and gaming, both of which provide entertainment to billions of people, NFTs are solely artificial in value)
  • Cryptocurrencies do only account for a small % of global emissions right now, but are one of the only solely artificial things to do so — and will continue to become bigger and bigger in their emissions, as they already have done, because of the nature of the proof-of-work systems on which most cryptocurrencies rely. This can be seen in the University of Cambridge graphs as well.

Of course, as previously stated, this doesn’t erase the fact that cryptocurrencies — and even more so NFTs — represent a small part of the fight against the climate crisis, for now. However, there is no serious defence for them being worth that cost, and they will not remain a “small part” for long.

It’s also notable that this logic can be used by almost anyone to shift the problem onto someone else: farmers, many of whom barely make a living, can at least say that their emissions are a necessity. Transportation has the excuse that environmentally friendly fuels are not yet viable in all situations and that for e.g. electric cars, the infrastructure required to make them work is not yet in place in most of the world. Industries can argue that where their power comes from isn’t their fault, or do the infamous BP “shift the blame to the consumer” method.

NFTs, on the other hand, have no such defences. Yes, they can be used by any artist around the world — but the vast majority of artists who will profit from them will be those who are already doing exceptionally well for themselves. The argument that it will make it easier for artists in e.g. developing countries to make a living is little more than a smokescreen.

Subsection: Some additional criticisms of Memo/Joanie’s Articles

I note in this section, that Jisu writes:

The first counterpoint is that minting NFTs does not add to the energy usage of Ethereum. Essentially, because NFTs are just adding another data point being calculated onto an already existing and operating blockchain — minting an NFT does NOT change whether information is going to be processed or not. This information is going to be processed on the Ethereum network regardless. — Excerpt from Jisu’s article

This is very much a misleading statement. Technically, it is true; if you’ve already built the Ethereum blockchain and made a load of blocks, minting an NFT does not add a carbon footprint of its own.

To give an analogy: imagine you run a giant factory, powered by a fossil fuel plant created purely to power your factory and others like it. You can pretend all day that your factory has no carbon footprint, but when it relies entirely on power from fossil fuels that is only generated to supply your factory, you can’t pretend your factory has no impact on the environment just because it isn’t the factory directly. The same argument is being made here of Ethereum NFTs; you need the fossil fuel plant (here the Ethereum blockchain) to have those NFTs in the first place.

It’s fair to say that placing exact emission statistics on any particular NFT is very much unreliable, and more useful for showing a rough idea of NFT emissions on the whole rather than being facts about any specific NFT, but that doesn’t change the fact that they all have a carbon footprint.

Subsection: Ecological Activism and Social Class

The statements made here are all quite strange to me, as if there’s one thing that digital non-NFT art has done, it has made art more accessible for artists all around the world due to the fact that it’s often not paid in local currencies (most Patreons are in USD, and a majority of artists charge commissions in USD despite not being in the US).

For example, if you live in a country where the minimum wage is $10 you can charge X amount for a certain skill level of art for a particular client. If you live in a country where the minimum wage is $1, you can still charge X, which has allowed artists across the world to raise their incomes.

A lot of professional art prices have gravitated towards the highest cost of living around the world (e.g. California) in order to be viable for artists in those places to make a living.

Subsection: NFTs are only profitable if you are a big artist

One of the primary reasons that NFTs — much like the traditional art market — are being criticised, is precisely because you don’t have to make a desirable artwork, you have to make a desirable investment/tax evasion product. A quote from the Economics Explained video mentioned earlier in this article is relevant here:

The high-end art market is not filled with creative artists. It’s filled with creative accountants. — Economics Explained

A desirable product for an art NFT is not an amazing painting, but a painting that is generic, abstract, sufficiently ‘artsy’, and lacks specific meaning so that it is vastly interpretable (the front page of withFND is full of this). This is one of the reasons why ‘modern art’ that has no explainable artistic merit sells for millions in art galleries, yet excellent paintings of anime or video game characters don’t; because with the former, you can simply tell anyone who contests the valuation that they ‘just don’t understand the amazing nature of this work’, and since nobody can tell what (if any) meaning the artwork is intended to have, nobody can disprove that.

This is not to say that all such artwork is bad art. It’s to say that there is zero correlation between the quality of the artwork and the price it commands.

That is the primary reason why it’s mostly big artists who succeed in NFTs: because the artist’s reputation drives demand, making the NFT a viable investment for the buyer. There is a level of success being seen by less well known artists, for whom the buyers are largely taking a bet on the greater fool theory as cryptocurrency continues to rise in popularity rather than on the artist themselves. Once the current cryptocurrency craze dies down, artists who aren’t already very successful will be left in the dust as far as NFTs are concerned.

Section: The real benefits of NFTs and Cryptocurrency

There are several subsections to cover here.

Subsection: Is Cryptocurrency just another Silicon-Valley scheme?

I note the following:

The only assumption that can be made is that they founded it to address the deep flaws within our financial system. — Excerpt from Jisu’s article

This is the best-possible-case assumption. There’s also plenty of other reasons to start a cryptocurrency, for example lining your own pockets (nobody is buying Bitcoin for altruistic or moral reasons, and we have no idea of the true identity of Bitcoin’s creator, who if anyone funded them, etc). There’s a lot of money to be made in creating marketplaces that rely on cryptocurrency, just like other currencies: as an example, the NFT marketplace Foundation (withFND) charges a 15% transaction fee, so an NFT that sells for e.g. $5000 worth of Ethereum tokens will net them $750 (that does not pay for the minting cost or anything else; it is purely their cut of the NFT’s final bid price. The artist pays separately to mint the NFT itself).

That there are flaws in the banking system is not even close to a proof that cryptocurrency was created to fix that, and there are far more plausible motives, such as those listed above, or to create a currency that is hard to track and chase down in money laundering investigations.

Subsection: Stops inflation

For one, cryptocurrency isn’t a finite resource in principle; it’s an artificially finite resource, i.e. it’s scarce by design in say Bitcoin, not because it needs to be (Dogecoin is not finite for instance). Real-world currencies, while not backed by some specific finite resource, are backed on the grounds of economic and overall stability of that currency’s country, which while not perfect are far better than nothing.

I note the following:

If you have played the stock market, you know the numbers on your screen are as valuable as dirt and it is all speculation (making bets on the potential risks/rewards of an investment). — Excerpt from Jisu’s article

Completely untrue. This assumes the whole stock market is like GME, which it really isn’t. Valuing a stock or share generally involves real-world, measurable facts, like the profitability of a company, its assets, cash flow, and so forth; this is known as fundamental analysis.

From that analysis, when you see a share price for a company, that share price is usually effectively decided on a few things:

  • The assets and/or debts of the company (buildings, equipment…). Not speculation: you can measure this objectively.
  • The income/profitability/cash flow of the company (whether profitable or not). Also not speculation, as these are provable, measurable statistics.
  • The current state of the economy and markets the company is involved in, current interest rates, and so forth. Not speculation: you can measure these objectively.
  • How loyal its customers are, how long the company has been in operation i.e. how reliable it is. This can be reliably calculated based on past sales, frequence of those sales to the same people, etc, and is thus mostly not speculation.
  • The prospects of the company in the future. This part is speculation, and even then, frequently this is speculation based on reliable past data such as previous financial years and other metrics, rather than arbitrary predictions.

As a result, most companies don’t wildly move up and down in share price every day, because their intrinsic, measurable value does not change that fast, and investors do in fact care a lot about that value (since it doesn’t care about their opinion). Stocks like GME, where share prices have gone up and down hugely in minutes or hours, are mostly speculation: investors betting that other investors will continue to pile in, like a pyramid scheme, hoping to sell and make a profit before the other investors do. Even Gamestop has an intrinsic value, though of course right now its share price does not reflect that, as speculation on it is so high as to make its intrinsic value almost irrelevant to the current share price. Situations like that are largely exceptions, but that those exceptions happen does not justify or even come close to justifying calling the entire stock market pure speculation.

Considering that Bitcoin has constantly fluctuated hugely in value, and has been on a continual upward trend (by its artificially finite design), the idea that cryptocurrency stops inflation is absurd — things charged in Bitcoin would inevitably change price to account for those fluctuations.

Subsection: Removes Monopolies

While it’s a bit of an off-topic point, this section fundamentally misunderstands what led to the economic crash of 2008. It didn’t crash just because centralised banks overspeculated on the housing market; it crashed because traders in those banks were encouraged by corporate structure to take high risks, and because regulations were lax (as a result of deregulation in the US and elsewhere). That was why the Dodd-Frank act was subsequently passed in 2010 after the crisis.

The banks themselves, didn’t have a specific interest in overspeculation on housing, though they were more than happy to profit from it so long as everyone pretended the risks didn’t exist. Traders inside those banks were judged on profit performance, as banks wanted high profits to give dividends to shareholders. When offering a mortgage to someone, the interest rate reflects the risk; if they have a high credit rating, they’re likely to pay it back, so you charge less interest to reflect that you don’t stand much chance of losing your money. When the customer has a bad credit rating, you charge a high interest rate to reflect the risk you’re taking.

As a result, traders took huge risks lending to customers with awful credit histories (known as subprime lending), knowing that if they continued to pay their mortgages the trader would be rewarded, and that if they didn’t, they could simply repossess the house and get the money back that way. That might seem to work in theory, but in practice it’s actually very dangerous: if many subprime customers can’t afford to pay their mortgages, the banks will suddenly flood the housing market with repossessed properties they’re selling to get their loaned money back. The result of a sudden surge of supply, and no change in demand, causes property prices to tumble.

In other words, traders acted in a decentralised way, helped by lax financial regulation. This distinction is important because exactly the same thing would happen (and already has) in cryptocurrency: people will be rewarded for activities that benefit them but imperil everyone else. Those who hold a sufficient amount of any given cryptocurrency will be able to do pretty much exactly the same things that the banks do with real-world currencies.

This is one of the prime reasons that figures like Elon Musk and others are promoting cryptocurrency: because merely by doing so, they can raise the value of their own investments, then selling them and messing up a lot of other people who bought in at a higher price whilst making a tidy profit. The history of cryptocurrency so far is littered with examples of people playing the market for their own gain, so the idea that it can prevent that is false.

Subsection: Unifies the Global Economy

It doesn’t unify the global economy. Bananas cost more in New York than in Ohio for the same reasons no matter what the currency is: because renting a shop in New York is a lot more expensive, and the overall cost of living in New York is much higher, both of which are due to higher demand for land.

While the cost of food itself is only 18% higher, a shop that sells bananas must also pay for wages, rent, utilities and everything else, all of which cost much more than they do in Ohio. Having a cryptocurrency does nothing to change any of that.

Tariffs, for example, are often there for political reasons — to protect companies in your own country from cheaper products imported from a foreign country, for instance (protectionism). Cryptocurrency wouldn’t do anything to change that either.

Subsection: Uplifts Small/Developing-Economies

There is no need for cryptocurrency for this. Most of the time, developing economies with an unstable or unreliable currency use USD as their unofficial currency — because it’s relatively stable, and unlike cryptocurrency USD actually has some basis for its value and has been around for a very long time. This is also visible in the art community, where many commissions (commercial or otherwise) are paid or charged in USD despite the local currency being something else. The only thing cryptocurrency brings to this equation is additional risk.

Subsection: Completely Transparent

Quoted from the original subsection (this is the full text of it):

Due to the nature of how blockchains work — everything is recorded. You cannot tamper with this, and you cannot destroy it. This solves the problem of potential manipulation and fraud, and removes the flawed aspect of human trust.

While it’s partially true to say that a decentralised blockchain can’t effectively be tampered with or destroyed (you can do it — it’s just not easy to gain the consensus required to do so), the idea that it solves the problem potential manipulation/fraud or removes the flawed aspect of human trust is simply false. There are no end of ways to subvert it — like most technology today, you subvert the human, not the technology itself, by for example showing them a fake screenshot of an NFT token page, or directing to them to what looks like a genuine website to buy the NFT but is in fact a fake one.

Encryption algorithms today are strong enough as to be effectively unbreakable. To take the Wikipedia article on AES, for example:

The first key-recovery attacks on full AES were by Andrey Bogdanov, Dmitry Khovratovich, and Christian Rechberger, and were published in 2011.[25] The attack is a biclique attack and is faster than brute force by a factor of about four. It requires 2^126.2 operations to recover an AES-128 key.

This is a very small gain, as a 126-bit key (instead of 128-bits) would still take billions of years to brute force on current and foreseeable hardware.

As a result, criminals are never attempting to actually break the encryption these days, outside of a few careless companies using highly outdated encryption; due to 64-bit systems nowadays, it’s also completely implausible that brute force — or any linearly faster solution than brute force — will be able to break modern encryption in any realistic timeframe either. Phishing and social engineering attacks are predominant today as they are far easier to perpetrate — this includes malware, as phishing is the primary way to actually get malware onto systems. Other attacks such as man-in-the-middle attacks, SQL injection and others have declined in usage due to modern security methods largely eliminating their feasibility outside of careless organisations. Therefore, from a hacker’s perspective, why go to all the hassle of trying to break the encryption — or in our case try to fool a supposedly unfoolable blockchain — when you can just fool the human?

A notable and high-profile example of this occurred back in 2017, when the WannaCry ransomware spread globally and locked up the UK’s National Health Service networks. While the ransomware itself targeted a vulnerability of old unpatched Windows 7 versions, its method of spreading was to ‘phish’, i.e. trick users into clicking a dodgy attachment in an email. No amount of unfoolable technology or unbreakable encryption will save you from a human who e.g. opens an unknown attachment or gives admin privileges to a malicious file unwittingly.

There is actually a “false sense of security” that blockchain is likely to give — because people know it can’t be tampered with, many less technically literate people will mistake this to think that an email telling them about something in blockchain (or e.g. linking to a supposedly genuine blockchain page) can’t be tampered with or must be genuine too. I’m not faulting blockchain for this, it could happen to any technology — I’m simply suggesting it doesn’t remove flawed human trust at all. A good example would be all the Twitter bots going around minting NFTs for artworks without the artists’ permission: are those NFTs genuine and trustworthy just because they’re using blockchain? Of course not. You still must trust the NFT is ‘genuine’, among other factors.

Those who fell for the “unfoolable blockchain” line of thinking have lost a lot of money doing so, as reported here:

Subsection: Provides Legitimacy to a Digital File

It doesn’t. It provides what seems like legitimacy but is not, in fact, legitimacy at all.

Compare to for example the physical, original Mona Lisa painting: it’s legitimate because experts agree it is legitimate. If the artist was alive they could vouch for it being the legitimate original. That is the only way we know its authenticity. As one example, the Salvator Mundi has been the subject of fierce disagreement for decades, and was previously attributed to others.

NFTs are exactly the same; the mere fact that an NFT was minted for an artwork doesn’t make it authentic, or with the author’s permission, or anything else. How do you know for certain that it was? In order to establish that, the exact same process will happen: the artist will say it’s the real one that was minted with their permission, and when they’re gone, experts would maintain records of that fact, just as they would for any artwork sold without NFTs in modern times.

Old artworks present a unique challenge as usually no records survive indicating who owned them and when, but with any modern artwork this problem is easily solved without cryptocurrency (and introducing cryptocurrency solves none of the problems of authenticity it claims to solve). At the end of the day, it will still have to be a collection of experts and digital or paper records proving what is or is not authentic, no matter what technology you use or how infallible that technology is.

Subsection: Adds Value to Digital Art

It doesn’t do this in any way normal legal documents can’t do (not that it really adds value — it does so in the same artificial way it does for high-price traditional art). Giving the buyer a legal document saying that they e.g. own the work would do exactly the same as selling it as an NFT; you don’t need NFTs to do this at all, because what is legally provable is just as strong as what is provable via cryptocurrency. It’s popular via NFTs for two reasons:

  1. Cryptocurrency is more difficult to trace than regular currencies, making it attractive for money laundering
  2. You can buy it with the intention of making your own cryptocurrency, or one you are invested in, more valuable (a la Beeple & Metakovan)

Outside of those scenarios, buying it as an ‘original’ — with the artist’s legal word that it is the original file — is just as significant as buying an NFT of it in every possible sense. The NFT is only authentic if the artist agrees it is, so it’s exactly the same thing in all practical terms.

Subsection: Actually REDUCES the carbon footprint of artists

When artists go to conventions, they are not the only ones to benefit. People who like that artist’s work and the artist themselves get to meet their favourite artist, get to buy a print they can take home and hang on a wall, get to meet other people who like that artist and art in general. Conventions have many benefits for both parties while NFTs do not.

Subsection: Funnels money from OUTSIDE the community to within

I note the following excerpt from Jisu’s section on this:

Artists can also seek freelance gigs and work at studios for fixed income, but that is reliant entirely on how businesses value art, rather than real art enthusiasts and collectors

Businesses have reasons for valuing art at a particular price (because it’s made to order and does not have an arbitrary value), where collectors do not; they place a purely speculative price on it for non-art reasons. That’s not to say businesses do this nicely, many underpay artists a lot — but the fact remains that that logic does not stand up to scrutiny.

These are just some of the objections I had to the article; it isn’t a full list, but I tried to organise them here as best I could.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

End of article responses section

I will now write a few comments of my own about this whole NFT situation.

One of the most important arguments for artists to consider is a very simple one: many people arguing in favour of NFTs are saying that ETH 2.0 is coming out soon, that cryptocurrency will become green, and therefore many of the environmental issues will stop being issues. If that is true, what possible argument is there for going into NFTs now instead of when the environmental issues are solved?

ETH 2.0 — using Proof of Stake —was sidelined and effectively abandoned by Ethereum in 2014 for being “non-trivial” to implement. There has been constant talk of it happening ever since then, yet nothing has materialised.

It seems like the responsible course for any artist who believes the environmental issues will be solved anytime soon is to simply wait that out.


I didn’t address every point in Jisu’s article, but I’m fine to answer questions about any of it, or questions on what I have said here. Any questions on either article are welcomed.

Of course it’s possible I may have made some errors whilst writing this, so in that case I will correct them in updates. I may update this document in due course anyway if/when I get time, to further expand on specific points in Jisu’s article and so forth.