[NEWS] Rocky waves hitting OpenSea
It’s all stormy seas over on the decentralized web.
Vice News reports widespread abuse of a popular tool used to mint non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the popular marketplace OpenSea, which led to the company restricting the use of the tool. Then, a backlash from platform users caused them to reverse course immediately.
Last week, OpenSea, valued at $13 billion, announced that users could only mint up to five collections of 50 NFTs for free. This is important because usually, when someone creates a new NFT, they have to pay a “blockchain gas fee” at the time of creation. With OpenSea’s system, commonly referred to as “lazy minting,” the NFT buyer would pay the fee at the time of purchase.
The tool was popular with artists and others who couldn’t afford the hefty fees usually associated with creating an NFT. With most NFTs, it can cost hundreds of dollars to write the data on the blockchain.
But according to a tweet sent out by OpenSea, “Over 80% of the items created with this tool were plagiarized works, fake collections, and spam.” They pointed out in a subsequent tweet, “We didn’t make this decision lightly. We made the change to address feedback we were receiving from our entire community.”
And therein lies the problem. The Guardian reports that the market for NFTs grew to $22bn in 2021, which makes it a lucrative field for scammers. Bad actors—who are anonymous by default—steal original art, video, written works, and music and turn them into NFTs. Selling these NFTs can lead to huge profits with few risks for the thieves. Meanwhile, the original creators make no money, have no control over the NFTs of their work, and probably won’t get credited.
As Vice points out: “That OpenSea would risk its reputation with such a sudden and impactful move also gives us some indirect insight into the scale of the fraud problem that free minting is causing for OpenSea itself.” If the OpenSea tool continues to allow people to mint NFTs for free, fraudsters can operate with little to no overhead.
However, the broader community howled when OpenSea announced its decision. On Decrypt, a site that discusses the decentralized web, they describe how “the NFT community has replied in force in the hours since the original tweet, with a wide array of creators and crypto industry personalities criticizing the marketplace for inhibiting collections that use OpenSea’s own NFT smart contract.”
Decrypt also notes that the new limit wasn’t just for new users or new collections, but also applied to those who have already minted 50 or more NFTs in a collection, preventing them from adding more or exceeding the five total collections.
The backlash among its users forced OpenSea to quickly reverse their position, tweeting, “To all the creators in our community impacted by the 50 item limit we added to our free minting tool, we hear you, and we’re sorry.” The company says they are working on new solutions to the problem of fraud and promises to share their ideas with the community.
In other news
- Is a ‘quantum apocalypse’ possible, and should we worry? You might not be aware of the race to create quantum computers, but it’s causing alarm in some circles. The BBC reports that early iterations of quantum computers in action show it’s possible to break incredibly complex encryption in seconds. Once launched commercially, industries such as Bitcoin will become unsafe overnight because billions of encryption layers can become unencrypted in a flash.
But that’s not all. Many governments worry about the security of world banking, defense, and industries that collect and encrypt data on their citizens. Quantum computers in the right hands will help solve many serious problems, but if quantum technology enters the wrong hands, this would be a game-changer and a thieves’ paradise. Therefore, it is no surprise that the UK, US, Russia, and China are investing in quantum-safe algorithms. The likes of Google, Microsoft, Intel, and IBM are exploring solutions to help protect us all in the cybersphere.
- Big thing finds tiny thing. Scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider have detected a mysterious particle from the dawn of time. The particles formed inside the tiniest fractions of a second after the Big Bang, and only 100 or so of these, known as ‘X’ particles, exist. The discovery of even one particle is significant. MSN.com describes how physicists hope that by studying the primordial X particle in more detail, they will be able to form the most accurate picture yet about the universe’s origins.
- One step closer to nuclear fusion. To create nuclear fusion, scientists need two things: a powerful input or spark of energy and something to contain it. Tech Radar reports that back in 2020, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California tried triggering a nuclear fusion reaction using the world’s most energetic laser. Their National Ignition Facility (NIF) work created a quadrillion watts of energy or 0.17 megajoules. Now, these scientists have discovered a way for plasma to store this energy. Combined with the laser, this discovery has the potential to be the most efficient way to produce energy on the planet.
- Let the culture flow. According to a journal from the American Chemical Society, kombucha tea, popular among hippies and the health-conscious, might be a route to affordable, sustainable water filtration. Research at two US universities showed that membranes grown from a kombucha’s symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast are more resistant to mineral buildup than current commercial-grade filters. Polymer-based filters, the existing industry standard, eventually become clogged and decrease how quickly they filter water flow. Scientists are now focusing on organic materials like kombucha cultures which inhibit bacterial growth.
- Flying Cars: The Future of Transportation? The AirCar — a car that can transform into an aircraft — has been awarded an official Certificate of Airworthiness by the Slovak Transport Authority after 70 hours of testing. The Royal Aeronautical Society’s chair, Kyriakos Kourousis, suggested to CNN that it is not at all unprecedented for flying vehicles to be certified. Furthermore, he predicts these types of cars will eventually replace helicopters one day.
Tip of the week
If you have an Amazon Echo or any other device with Alexa voice controls, you may not realize your default privacy settings are public. Alexa listens to everything you say to process it and assist with the task at hand. While this may be convenient in some instances, you might not want Alexa — and therefore Amazon — to have a record of every time you sing to your cats or fight with your spouse.
Here are a few ways you can interact with your Echo or other Amazon device using just voice commands.
- “Alexa, delete what I just said.”
If you want to delete everything, you can visit the Alexa Privacy Settings, or you can simply say, “Alexa, delete what I said today” or “Alexa, delete everything I’ve ever said.”
- “Alexa, why did you do that?”
If you’re like us, your Alexa will sometimes speak when no one used the wake word, or offer an unwelcome tip. Rather than start a pointless argument with your robot assistant, you can simply ask Alexa, and it will provide a short explanation for the last response.
- “Alexa, tell me what you heard.”
If you’re not sure if Alexa heard you correctly — or was listening at all — you could ask, “Alexa, tell me what you heard,” to find out what was recorded during the last minute.