Within the whirlwind of discussion after the recent DAO attack, some people within the community have developed a perspective surrounding the attacker that I’d like to challenge.
The perspective is that the attacker hasn’t actually done anything wrong. In fact, they’ve provided a great service to the DAO and overall cryptocurrency community by pointing out fatal bugs within the codebase. Some even go so far as to congratulate and praise. Their actions will, as it’s pointed out, allow us to make our future projects more resilient and secure. It’s also argued that the attacker should be exempt from any “human moralizing” because they simply conformed to the rules within the code itself. They executed a function, and that function ran as expected. Additionally, nothing new was introduced into the environment like common viruses do, nor should anybody be surprised that a risky investment went belly up. In fact, the 50 million dollar heist is actually the fault of the token holders themselves for trusting such a risky project!
I think we can all agree that the wisdom gained from the attack will not be overlooked. It’s extremely valuable information that we as a community will use productively and learn from. However I’d like to argue that despite this seeming benefit, the attacker should still be regarded as a thief who harmed not only the token holders, but the entire cryptocurrency community at large.
Case in point. Nobody can dispute how much the Slock.it team has done for the Ethereum community during the months leading up to this event. Hours upon hours spent writing code, speaking at conferences, giving back to the community. Unlike many people who talk about making the world a better place, they’ve actually been dedicating their lives everyday to actually doing it. People like Griff Green who gave so much excitement and inspiration to all of us. Now, instead of watching the tremendous creative energy of the human spirit, we have the predictable aftermath that comes when people like James Taggart, Wesley Mouch, or this attacker contribute their ideas to the world. All for what?
If the argument is that it’s appropriate to commit such an act out of the desire to reveal bugs, then I would never want to write software with you. This kind of act wasn’t needed to fix code defects, hell, we all knew they existed already and were in the process of fixing them. Anyone who writes software for a living knows that programs are never bug free. Yet, we don’t go around attacking other people’s applications. We submit pull requests.
Nowhere in the contract of the DAO did it say “We reserve the right for the Ether you invest to be transferred to a random address, never again to be given back to you”. If it did, no one would have invested in the first place. The implied contract was, and always has been, that the Ether belonged to each investor via a proxy called DAO tokens. We were operating under the implied assumption that we maintained full control over our invested Ether. Unless of course we decided to invest in a curator by our own choice. That last part being very important.
We should be very clear about this: the attacker stole our property. Were we storing it with a third party? Absolutely. Are there risks involved with doing that? Of course there are. However lending my laptop to a friend, who is consequently robbed, doesn’t change the fact that the thief is a terrible person.
I’d like to be upfront about the fact that I’m a token holder myself. I didn’t invest much, but it still affected me. And while it is discouraging, I still support not forking at all if doing so would mean compromising the health of the Ethereum network. I take full responsibility for the choice I made and don’t expect anybody to pay for my risk.
Yet loosing money isn’t what I’m upset about. What actually bothers me is the opinion of the attacker that I’ve seen develop in our community during the last two days. I’m not being facetious when I say if there ever was an enemy in this world, this person would be the prototype.
The antagonists of mankind. The destroyers of progress. The depletion of productive creative energy simply for the lulz and their own ego. At least JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs offer some services for people, however morally bankrupt. This was literally destruction to watch the world burn; Atlas Shrugged style.
Meanwhile the people we should be thanking and respecting for their contributions suffer unnecessarily. Not to mention at the same time preventing the rest of us from ever experiencing the brilliance that could have been created; limited only by the efforts of our own minds and creativity. I encourage you as a member of this community not to look at this person as some kind of hero, but for the anti-social, anti-progress criminal that they are.
During the recovery period, we should take time to remember why we’re creating these projects in the first place. What’s the purpose of it all? We’re rapidly approaching a time where code will run most, if not all of our lives. As technology progresses and begins challenging our commonly held beliefs, it’s important for us to maintain our humanity. It’s important for us to remember why we’re creating these amazing machines in the first place. We’re creating them to serve human beings. We’re writing DAOs in order to improve human flourishing and enrich our lives. However, we can’t do that if there’s no longer a human to enrich.