The annual RSA Conference brings together some of the brightest minds in cryptography to discuss advances in the field, the year's biggest hacks, and where the cybersecurity industry is heading. This year, it just so happened to kick off with a pronounced dunk on NFTs.
The first main event of RSA 2021 was the cryptographers' panel, which followed Monday's opening keynote. At the start of the panel, Ron Rivest, a famed cryptographer who co-created RSA public-key encryption, derided non-fungible tokens as worth even less than the famed tulips of tulip mania.
At least with actual tulips, argued Rivest, "you can own them, you can posses them, you can plant them, you can enjoy them."
NFTs, Rivest observed, aren't even like pictures of tulips. They're more akin to digital tokens that point at a picture of a tulip.
"It's a bit like homeopathic medicine," said Rivest. "You dilute it, you dilute it, you dilute it, and you say, 'What's left?'"
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