Ethereum Launched        
In case you missed it Ethereum announced its first developer release a week ago. What is Ethereum? According to the video it's a "planetary scale computer powered by blockchain technology." Given the breathlessness, some skepticism is in order, but what if it purports to do on the tin is true? One good sign, I'd submit, is they recognize that Ethereum does not exist in a regulatory vacuum despite their claims of being a 'trustless' computing platform. On that note, I'd say widespread adoption, of any digital currency, hinges on gov't/central bank[*] backing, viz. fedcoin or cf. any other govcoin. also btw...
  • Vapor No More: Ethereum Has Launched - "These are very early days; this is only the first preliminary phase of a multi-stage launch. (One which will theoretically end with an eyebrow-raising transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, for you hardcore cryptocurrency nerds out there.) Even then, performance will be terrible; it will be a decentralized virtual machine, but a painfully slow and weak one compared to the computer on your desk, or even the one in your pocket."
  • Ethereum Network Continues Thawing Process in Anticipation of the Start of Trading - "The gas limit will not be released immediately, but will grow gradually. Ethereum's gas price is determined by miners and how much of their computing power they are wiling to contribute to the network. If no miners update their client and raise the artificial limit they are willing to accept, then no transactions will be possible on the Ethereum network."
  • Ethereum Launches Frontier; Ether Mining Begins, Trading to Follow - "The Frontier release is an achievement to be lauded and not taken lightly, but Ethereum still has a long, difficult road ahead. Its technical merits continue to be challenged by different parties, and significant development milestones remain. However, to anyone excited by the promises of decentralized blockchain technology, Ethereum is a project that is surely awe-inspiring and, if successful, to be one of the greatest technological feats since the advent of the Internet."
Some previous hype:
  • The Utopia Algorithm - "When you buy something on eBay or Airbnb, a cut goes to the company for facilitating the transaction. A handful of programmers are planning to build an online marketplace on Ethereum where buyers and sellers can connect without a third party and their commission."
  • Come With Us If You Want to Live[*; pdf] - "I prefer thinking about the problem of 'How do we make sure that all people have at least something?' So figuring out how to create a currency that would, say, give everyone on earth one unit per year—to me, that would be the ideal."
  • More on the possible benefits of Ethereum[*] - "One of the more advanced concepts being touted for a next-generation Bitcoin is the idea of decentralised autonomous corporations (DAC) – companies with no directors. These would follow a pre-programmed business model and are managed entirely by the block chain. In this case the block chain acts as a way for the DAC to store financial accounts and record shareholder votes."
  • Filtered for the future of the firm - "So, y'know, the idea that a corporation - an organisation for orchestrating human endeavour to deliberate ends - an entity invented in the 1600s, and entity which BY ITS INESCAPABLE LOGIC forces us into mass production, mass consumption, mass media, alienation and the loss of individuality, and all kinds of ugly inhuman shit... the idea that we can re-invent the corporation, and create new forms of it: That's interesting."
  • The idea that we might create a type of organisation which is empowering, has local value which doesn't mean everything gets coerced into the value of giant companies, is smaller, can be interrogated and critiqued because it's just code, that avoids the priesthoods of capital and law.

    That a company might be a fuzzy-edged thing, where consumers are owners too...

    I'd say: Make a little bottle-city company that embodies all of this. Consumer-owners, internal currencies for resource allocation, corporate governance as executable code, doing an actual interesting tractable not-too-ambitious thing. Half co-op, half lifestyle business, half startup. Show what happens when we use capital, instead of capital using us. Do it simply and elegantly. Make a little nest of these companies. Then sit back and see what happens.
  • Teenage Hacker Transforms Web Into One Giant Bitcoin Network - "Ethereum and other next-gen crypto-platforms paint a very attractive picture of our online future, one where users are in control, not governments or big companies."
  • There's a blockchain for that[*] - "There's this hopelessly geeky new technology. It's too hard to understand and use. How could it ever break the mass market? Yet developers are excited, venture capital is pouring in, and industry players are taking note. Something big might be happening. That is exactly how the Web looked back in 1994 — right before it exploded. Two decades later, it's beginning to feel like we might be at a similar liminal moment. Our new contender for the Next Big Thing is the blockchain — the baffling yet alluring innovation that underlies the Bitcoin digital currency."
There is a contingent on today's Internet—a minority, perhaps, but influential—who believe that the industry took a wrong turn over the past decade. That an Internet dominated by a few big companies is an unhealthy one. That the centralized-computing paradigm—of privately owned data silos housed in giant server farms that harvest our personal data in order to sell ads—is one that needs to change. The entrepreneurs, coders and crypto experts leading the blockchain charge — I shall call them blockchainiacs, because they need a name — see this new technology as an antidote, and they are hopped up on dizzying visions of a disrupted future. (One sure sign that this technology has achieved geek-cred critical mass: The tech publisher O'Reilly just announced a new conference on the topic.)
Some more background material:
  • Understanding the blockchain - "The technology concept behind the blockchain is similar to that of a database, except that the way you interact with that database is different. For developers, the blockchain concept represents a paradigm shift in how software engineers will write software applications in the future, and it is one of the key concepts that needs to be well understood. We need to really understand five key concepts, and how they interrelate to one another in the context of this new computing paradigm that is unravelling in front of us: the blockchain, decentralized consensus, trusted computing, smart contracts, and proof of work/stake. This computing paradigm is important because it is a catalyst for the creation of decentralized applications, a next-step evolution from distributed computing architectural constructs."
  • The reality is that the crypto-led computer science revolution is giving us concepts that go way beyond a one-currency type of scenario. Yes, bitcoin is programmable money, but the blockchain is also programmable value, programmable governance, programmable contracts, programmable ownership, programmable trust, programmable assets, etc. And we have barely scratched the surface on these applications.

    It is too early to tell exactly where the cryptocurrency landscape will end up. Maybe it will be like social media, with four giant platforms, dozens of large players, thousands of other companies as beneficiaries, and of course, millions if not billions of end-users. And that would be a good thing.

    But to get there, let's not forget the basic golden rule of network effects: without users, there is no network effect.
  • Blockchain scalability - "Blockchain scalability is an essential set of issues that must be tackled as blockchain technologies become more popular. It's particularly difficult to build for scalability and to maintain backward compatibility. Solutions are being proposed, in academic papers and whitepapers, but we'll have to wait and see what really works."
  • The Blockchain is the New Database - "It's a bit like your home address. You can publish your home address publicly, but that doesn't give any information about what your home looks like on the inside. You'll need your private key to enter your private home, and since you have claimed that address as yours, no one else can claim a similar address as theirs. The blockchain can also be seen as a software design approach that binds a number of peer computers together that commonly obey the same 'consensus' process for releasing or recording what information they hold, and where all related interactions are verified by cryptography."
  • Enabling Blockchain Innovations - "Chaum introduced the blind signature, which he used to provide a cryptographic means to prevent linking of the central server's signatures (which represent coins), while still allowing the central server to perform double-spend prevention. The requirement for a central server became the Achilles' heel of digital cash."
  • Clarifying the Foundational Innovation of the Blockchain[*] - "Let me repeat that again for emphasis: before the blockchain's existence there were *no* systems that were organizationally decentralized, yet logically centralized. This is why Bitcoin is such a foundational technology."
  • Blockchains as a public and private resource - "In other words, what's still to be determined is whether Ethereum and its ilk would ever be more cost efficient on a per participant basis than just trusting the government to run an equivalent database on the public behalf, funded by good old fashioned tax dollars.‏"
  • Demystifying incentives in the consensus computer[*] - "Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies are a massive network of computational devices that maintain the robutness and correctness of the computation done in the network. Cryptocurrency protocols, including Bitcoin and the more recent Ethereum system, offer an additional feature that allows currency users to specify a "script" or contract which is executed collectively (via a consensus protocol) by the network. This feature can be used for many new applications of cryptocurrencies beyond simple cash transaction. Indeed, several efforts to develop decentralized applications are underway and recent experimental efforts have proposed to port a LinuxOS to such a decentralized computational platform."
  • In this work, we study the security of computations on a cryptocurrency network. We explain why the correctness of such computations is susceptible to attacks that both waste network resources of honest miners as well as lead to incorrect results. The essence of our arguments stems from a deeper understanding of the incentive-incompatibility of maintaining a correct blockchain. We explain this via a ill-fated choice called the verifier's dilemma, which suggests that rational miners are well-incentivized to accept an unvalidated blockchain as correct, especially in next-generation cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum that are Turing-complete. To explain which classes of computation can be computed securely, we formulate a model of computation we call the consensus verifiability. We propose a solution that reduces the adversary's advantage substantially, thereby achieving near-ideal incentive-compatibility for executing and verifying computation in our consensus verifiability model. We further propose two different but complementary approaches to implement our solution in real cryptocurrency networks like Ethereum. We show the feasibility of such approaches for a set of practical outsourced computation tasks as case studies.
  • A simple model to make sense of the proliferation of distributed ledger, smart contract and cryptocurrency projects - "I think the two dimensions that help me think about these projects are: [1] 'Who do I trust to maintain a truthful record?'; and [2] 'What do I need the record to be about?' "
  • Cost? Trust? Something else? What's the killer-app for Block Chain Technology? - "Imagine we're living five or ten years in the future. Perhaps we have a securities block chain that records ownership of all securities in the world. Perhaps we have a derivatives smart contract platform that records (and enforces?) all derivatives contracts? Maybe, even, there will be a single, universal platform of this sort."
  • Sure – everybody still has a copy of the data locally... but the consensus system ensures that we know the local copy is the same as the copy everywhere else because it is the shared consensus system that is maintaining the ledger. And so we know we're producing our financial statements using the same facts as all the other participants in the industry.

    Does this mean we no longer need audit? No longer need reconciliations? Obviously not, but perhaps this approach is what is driving some of the interest in this space?

    But notice: this is just a way of ensuring we agree on the facts: who owns what? Who has agreed to what? We can still run our own valuation algorithms over the top and we could even forward the results to the regulator (who could also, of course, have a copy of the ledger) so they can identify situations where two parties have very different valuations for the same position, which is probably a sign of trouble.
  • Smart Contracts? - "I reprised my current theme that the world of 'blockchains' is really two distinct worlds – the world of Ripple-like ledgers and the world of Bitcoin-like systems – that happen to be united by a common architecture, the Replicated, Shared Ledger. This unifying concept is based on the idea that each participant has their own copy of the entire ledger – and they trust the 'system' – whatever system that is – to ensure their copy is kept in sync with everybody else's. The differences are about what the ledger records and how it is secured."
  • Broadly speaking, Ripple-like systems are focused on the representation of "off-system" assets and are secured by identifiable entities. Systems like Ripple, Hyperledger and Eris are broadly in this world, I think. The security model of these systems is based on knowing who the actors are: if somebody misbehaves, we can punish them because we know who they are!

    Bitcoin-like systems are more focused on "on-system" assets and are secured by an anonymous pool of actors. Bitcoin and Ethereum are broadly in this space, I think. The security model here is based more on game-theoretic analyses of incentive structures: the goal is to make it overwhelmingly in the actors' financial interests to do the "right" thing...

    Bitcoin-like systems could be disruptive to existing institutions if they gained widespread adoption, whereas Ripple-like systems seem, to me, to be far more closely aligned to how things work today and are, perhaps, a source of incremental innovation.

    If this observation is correct, then firms looking at this space probably need to assess the technologies through different lenses. The question for banks for Ripple-like systems is: "how could we use this to reduce cost or improve our operations" whereas the question for Bitcoin-like systems is: "how would we respond if this technology gained widespread adoption?"
  • A Simple Explanation of Balance Sheets - "One can imagine a world where the bank still records that it owes some money to its customers but the shared ledger is the place that records precisely who those people are. This is fundamentally different to using the shared ledger as a mirror (or mirroring it to the bank's own ledger) – it's more akin to seeing the shared ledger as a partial subledger. And it might perhaps be something that gets adopted to different degrees by different firms... hopefully this sketch shows some possibilities for where this could be going. And, like I said earlier, none of this will happen unless we get everybody to the same page with the right mental model for how banking works."
  • Two revolutions for the price of one? - "Bitcoin is worse than existing solutions for all the use-cases that banks care about. It's expensive. It's slow. And it's 'regulatorily difficult'. And this is by design."
So, if this is true, we should expect to see adoption of Bitcoin come from the margins, solving marginal problems for marginal users. But disruptive innovations have a habit of learning fast and growing. They don't stop at the margins and they work their way in and up... Bitcoin essentially runs on a MASSIVELY replicated, shared ledger. (The trick is in keeping it consistent, of course...) It sounds insanely inefficient and expensive... and perhaps it is. But we also have to ask ourselves: inefficient and expensive as compared to what? Just look at the state of banking IT today... Payments, Securities, Derivatives... Pick any one. They all follow the same pattern: every bank has built or bought at least one, usually several, systems to track positions and manage the lifecycle of trades: core banking systems, securities settlement systems, multiple derivatives systems and so on. Each of these systems cost money to build and each of them costs even more to maintain. And each bank uses these systems to build and maintain its view of the world. And they have to be connected to each other and kept in sync, usually through reconciliation... But what if... what if these firms – that don't quite trust each other – used a shared system to record and manage their positions? Now we'd only need one system for an entire industry... not one per firm. It would be more expensive and complicated to run than any given bank-specific systems but the industry-level cost and complexity would be at least an order of magnitude less. One might argue that this is why industry utilities have been so successful. But a centralised utility also brings issues: who owns it? Who controls it? How do the users ensure it stays responsive to their needs and remains cost-effective? The tantalising prospect of the blockchain revolution is that perhaps it offers a third way: a system with the benefits of a centralised, shared infrastructure but without the centralised point of control: if the data and business logic is shared and replicated, no one firm can assert control, or so the argument goes. Now, there are lots of unsolved problems: privacy, performance, scalability, does the technology actually work, might we be walking away from a redundant (antifragile?) existing model? Who will build these platforms if they can't easily charge a fee because of their mutualised nature? Difficult questions.

          #193 Dave Collins & Jake Yocom-Piatt: Decred - A Hybrid Approach to Blockchain Governance        

Dave Collins and Jake Yocom-Piatt join us to talk about Decred, a cryptocurrency which introduces an innovative system of community-based governance into its blockchain. Decred implements a hybrid Proof of Work and Proof of Stake system in which miners validate transactions, while users can vote on new features and upgrades to the protocol. This clever approach enables efficient blockchain governance, which has demonstrated to be successful in a recent protocol upgrade on the live network.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Dave and Jake's respective backgrounds in the blockchain space
  • The challenges addressed by Decred, specifically regarding blockchain governance
  • Decred's hybrid Proof of Work/Proof of Stake approach to governance
  • How users of the network vote on protocol upgrade with ""tickets""
  • Possible downfalls and attack vectors to this approach
  • How Decred's governance model successfully implemented a hard fork on the production network
  • Decred's approach to development funding

Links mentioned in this episode:


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Epicenter is hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, S?ƒbastien Couture & Meher Roy.

          Anthony Towns: Bitcoin: ASICBoost – Plausible or not?        

So the first question: is ASICBoost use plausible in the real world?

There are plenty of claims that it’s not:

  • “Much conspiracy around today. I don’t believe SegWit non-activation has anything to do with AsicBoost!” – Timo Hanke, one of the patent applicants, on twitter
  • “there’s absolutely nothing but baseless accusations flying around” – Emin Gun Sirer’s take, linked from the Bitmain statement
  • “no company would ever produce a chip that would have a switch in to hide that it’s actually an ASICboost chip.” – Sam Cole formerly of KNCMiner which went bankrupt due to being unable to compete with Bitmain in 2016
  • “I believe their claim about not activating ASICBoost. It is very small money for them.” – Guy Corem of SpoonDoolies, who independently discovered ASICBoost
  • “No one is even using Asicboost.” – Roger Ver (/u/memorydealers) on reddit

A lot of these claims don’t actually match reality though: ASICBoost is implemented in Bitmain miners sold to the public, and since it defaults to off, a switch to hide it is obviously easily possible since it’s disabled by default, contradicting Sam Cole’s take. There’s plenty of circumstantial evidence of ASICBoost-related transaction structuring in blocks, contradicting the basis on which Emin Gun Sirer’s dismisses the claims. The 15%-30% improvement claims that Guy Corem and Sam Cole cite are certainly large enough to be worth looking into — and  Bitmain confirms to have done on testnet. Even Guy Corem’s claim that they only amount to $2,000,000 in savings per year rather than $100,000,000 seems like a reason to expect it to be in use, rather than so little that you wouldn’t bother.

If ASICBoost weren’t in use on mainnet it would probably be relatively straightforward to prove that: Bitmain could publish the benchmarks results they got when testing on testnet, and why that proved not to be worth doing on mainnet, and provide instructions for their customers on how to reproduce their results, for instance. Or Bitmain and others could support efforts to block ASICBoost from being used on mainnet, to ensure no one else uses it, for the greater good of the network — if, as they claim, they’re already not using it, this would come at no cost to them.

To me, much of the rhetoric that’s being passed around seems to be a much better match for what you would expect if ASICBoost were in use, than if it was not. In detail:

  • If ASICBoost were in use, and no one had any reason to hide it being used, then people would admit to using it, and would do so by using bits in the block version.
  • If ASICBoost were in use, but people had strong reasons to hide that fact, then people would claim not to be using it for a variety of reasons, but those explanations would not stand up to more than casual analysis.
  • If ASICBoost were not in use, and it was fairly easy to see there is no benefit to it, then people would be happy to share their reasoning for not using it in detail, and this reasoning would be able to be confirmed independently.
  • If ASICBoost were not in use, but the reasons why it is not useful require significant research efforts, then keeping the detailed reasoning private may act as a competitive advantage.

The first scenario can be easily verified, and does not match reality. Likewise the third scenario does not (at least in my opinion) match reality; as noted above, many of the explanations presented are superficial at best, contradict each other, or simply fall apart on even a cursory analysis. Unfortunately that rules out assuming good faith — either people are lying about using ASICBoost, or just dissembling about why they’re not using it. Working out which of those is most likely requires coming to our own conclusion on whether ASICBoost makes sense.

I think Jimmy Song had some good posts on that topic. His first, on Bitmain’s ASICBoost claims finds some plausible examples of ASICBoost testing on testnet, however this was corrected in the comments as having been performed by Timo Hanke, rather than Bitmain. Having a look at other blocks’ version fields on testnet seems to indicate that there hasn’t been much other fiddling of version fields, so presumably whatever testing of ASICBoost was done by Bitmain, fiddling with the version field was not used; but that in turn implies that Bitmain must have been testing covert ASICBoost on testnet, assuming their claim to have tested it on testnet is true in the first place (they could quite reasonably have used a private testnet instead). Two later posts, on profitability and ASICBoost and Bitmain’s profitability in particular, go into more detail, mostly supporting Guy Corem’s analysis mentioned above. Perhaps interestingly, Jimmy Song also made a proposal to the bitcoin-dev shortly after Greg’s original post revealing ASICBoost and prior to these posts; that proposal would have endorsed use of ASICBoost on mainnet, making it cheaper and compatible with segwit, but would also have made use of ASICBoost readily apparent to both other miners and patent holders.

It seems to me there are three different ways to look at the maths here, and because this is an economics question, each of them give a different result:

  • Greg’s maths splits miners into two groups each with 50% of hashpower. One group, which is unable to use ASICBoost is assumed to be operating at almost zero profit, so their costs to mine bitcoins are only barely below the revenue they get from selling the bitcoin they mine. Using this assumption, the costs of running mining equipment are calculated by taking the number of bitcoin mined per year (365*24*6*12.5=657k), multiplying that by the price at the time ($1100), and halving the costs because each group only mines half the chain. This gives a cost of mining for the non-ASICBoost group of $361M per year. The other group, which uses ASICBoost, then gains a 30% advantage in costs, so only pays 70%, or $252M, a comparative saving of approximately $100M per annum. This saving is directly proportional to hashrate and ASICBoost advantage, so using Guy Corem’s figures of 13.2% hashrate and 15% advantage, this reduces from $95M to $66M, saving about $29M per annum.
  • Guy Corem’s maths estimates Bitmain’s figures directly: looking at the AntPool hashpower share, he estimates 500PH/s in hashpower (or 13.2%); he uses the specs of the AntMiner S9 to determine power usage (0.1 J/GH); he looks at electricity prices in China and estimates $0.03 per kWh; and he estimates the ASICBoost advantage to be 15%. This gives a total cost of 500M GH/s * 0.1 J/GH / 1000 W/kW * $0.03 per kWh * 24 * 365 which is $13.14 M per annum, so a 15% saving is just under $2M per annum. If you assume that the hashpower was 50% and ASICBoost gave a 30% advantage instead, this equates to about 1900 PH/s, and gives a benefit of just under $15M per annum. In order to get the $100M figure to match Greg’s result, you would also need to increase electricity costs by a factor of six, from 3c per kWH to 20c per kWH.
  • The approach I prefer is to compare what your hashpower would be keeping costs constant and work out the difference in revenue: for example, if you’re spending $13M per annum in electricity, what is your profit with ASICBoost versus without (assuming that the difficulty retargets appropriately, but no one else changes their mining behaviour). Following this line of thought, if you have 500PH/s with ASICBoost giving you a 30% boost, then without ASICBoost, you have 384 PH/s (500/1.3). If that was 13.2% of hashpower, then the remaining 86.8% of hashpower is 3288 PH/s, so when you stop using ASICBoost and a retarget occurs, total hashpower is now 3672 PH/s (384+3288), and your percentage is now 10.5%. Because mining revenue is simply proportional to hashpower, this amounts to a loss of 2.7% of the total bitcoin reward, or just under $20M per year. If you match Greg’s assumptions (50% hashpower, 30% benefit) that leads to an estimate of $47M per annum; if you match Guy Corem’s assumptions (13.2% hashpower, 15% benefit) it leads to an estimate of just under $11M per annum.

So like I said, that’s three different answers in each of two scenarios: Guy’s low end assumption of 13.2% hashpower and a 15% advantage to ASICBoost gives figures of $29M/$2M/$11M; while Greg’s high end assumptions of 50% hashpower and 30% advantage give figures of $100M/$15M/$47M. The differences in assumptions there is obviously pretty important.

I don’t find the assumptions behind Greg’s maths realistic: in essence, it assumes that mining be so competitive that it is barely profitable even in the short term. However, if that were the case, then nobody would be able to invest in new mining hardware, because they would not recoup their investment. In addition, even if at some point mining were not profitable, increases in the price of bitcoin would change that, and the price of bitcoin has been increasing over recent months. Beyond that, it also assumes electricity prices do not vary between miners — if only the marginal miner is not profitable, it may be that some miners have lower costs and therefore are profitable; and indeed this is likely the case, because electricity prices vary over time due to both seasonal and economic factors. The method Greg uses does is useful for establishing an upper limit, however: the only way ASICBoost could offer more savings than Greg’s estimate would be if every block mined produced less revenue than it cost in electricity, and miners were making a loss on every block. (This doesn’t mean $100M is an upper limit however — that estimate was current in April, but the price of bitcoin has more than doubled since then, so the current upper bound via Greg’s maths would be about $236M per year)

A downside to Guy’s method from the point of view of outside analysis is that it requires more information: you need to know the efficiency of the miners being used and the cost of electricity, and any error in those estimates will be reflected in your final figure. In particular, the cost of electricity needs to be a “whole lifecycle” cost — if it costs 3c/kWh to supply electricity, but you also need to spend an additional 5c/kWh in cooling in order to keep your data-centre operating, then you need to use a figure of 8c/kWh to get useful results. This likely provides a good lower bound estimate however: using ASICBoost will save you energy, and if you forget to account for cooling or some other important factor, then your estimate will be too low; but that will still serve as a loose lower bound. This estimate also changes over time however; while it doesn’t depend on price, it does depend on deployed hashpower — since total hashrate has risen from around 3700 PH/s in April to around 6200 PH/s today, if Bitmain’s hashrate has risen proportionally, it has gone from 500 PH/s to 837 PH/s, and an ASICBoost advantage of 15% means power cost savings have gone from $2M to $3.3M per year; or if Bitmain has instead maintained control of 50% of hashrate at 30% advantage, the savings have gone from $15M to $25M per year.

The key difference between my method and both Greg’s and Guy’s is that they implicitly assume that consuming more electricity is viable, and costs simply increase proportionally; whereas my method assumes that this is not viable, and instead that sufficient mining hardware has been deployed that power consumption is already constrained by some other factor. This might be due to reaching the limit of what the power company can supply, or the rating of the wiring in the data centre, or it might be due to the cooling capacity, or fire risk, or some other factor. For an operation spanning multiple data centres this may be the case for some locations but not others — older data centres may be maxed out, while newer data centres are still being populated and may have excess capacity, for example. If setting up new data centres is not too difficult, it might also be true in the short term, but not true in the longer term — that is having each miner use more power due to disabling ASICBoost might require shutting some miners down initially, but they may be able to be shifted to other sites over the course of a few weeks or month, and restarted there, though this would require taking into account additional hosting costs beyond electricity and cooling. As such, I think this is a fairly reasonable way to produce an plausible estimate, and it’s the one I’ll be using. Note that it depends on the bitcoin price, so the estimates this method produces have also risen since April, going from $11M to $24M per annum (13.2% hash, 15% advantage) or from $47M to $103M (50% hash, 30% advantage).

The way ASICBoost works is by allowing you to save a few steps: normally when trying to generate a proof of work, you have to do essentially six steps:

  1. A = Expand( Chunk1 )
  2. B = Compress( A, 0 )
  3. C = Expand( Chunk2 )
  4. D = Compress( C, B )
  5. E = Expand( D )
  6. F = Compress( E )

The expected process is to do steps (1,2) once, then do steps (3,4,5,6) about four billion (or more) times, until you get a useful answer. You do this process in parallel across many different chips. ASICBoost changes this process by observing that step (3) is independent of steps (1,2) — so by finding a variety of Chunk1s — call them Chunk1-A, Chunk1-B, Chunk1-C and Chunk1-D that are each compatible with a common Chunk2. In that case, you do steps (1,2) four times for each different Chunk1, then do step (3) four billion (or more) times, and do steps (4,5,6) 16 billion (or more) times, to get four times the work, while saving 12 billion (or more) iterations of step (3). Depending on the number of Chunk1’s you set yourself up to find, and the relative weight of the Expand versus Compress steps, this comes to (n-1)/n / 2 / (1+c/e), where n is the number of different Chunk1’s you have. If you take the weight of Expand and Compress steps as about equal, it simplifies to 25%*(n-1)/n, and with n=4, this is 18.75%. As such, an ASICBoost advantage of about 20% seems reasonably practical to me. At 50% hash and 20% advantage, my estimates for ASICBoost’s value are $33M in April, and $72M today.

So as to the question of whether you’d use ASICBoost, I think the answer is a clear yes: the lower end estimate has risen from $2M to $3.3M per year, and since Bitmain have acknowledged that AntMiner’s support ASICBoost in hardware already, the only additional cost is finding collisions which may not be completely trivial, but is not difficult and is easily automated.

If the benefit is only in this range, however, this does not provide a plausible explanation for opposing segwit: having the Bitcoin industry come to a consensus about how to move forward would likely increase the bitcoin price substantially, definitely increasing Bitmain’s mining revenue — even a 2% increase in price would cover their additional costs. However, as above, I believe this is only a lower bound, and a more reasonable estimate is on the order of $11M-$47M as of April or $24M-$103M as of today. This is a much more serious range, and would require an 11%-25% increase in price to not be an outright loss; and a far more attractive proposition would be to find a compromise position that both allows the industry to move forward (increasing the price) and allows ASICBoost to remain operational (maintaining the cost savings / revenue boost).


It’s possible to take a different approach to analysing the cost-effectiveness of mining given how much you need to pay in electricity costs. If you have access to a lot of power at a flat rate, can deal with other hosting issues, can expand (or reduce) your mining infrastructure substantially, and have some degree of influence in how much hashpower other miners can deploy, then you can derive a formula for what proportion of hashpower is most profitable for you to control.

In particular, if your costs are determined by an electricity (and cooling, etc) price, E, in dollars per kWh and performance, r, in Joules per gigahash, then given your hashrate, h in terahash/second, your power usage in watts is (h*1e3*r), and you run this for 600 seconds on average between each block (h*r*6e5 Ws), which you divide by 3.6M to convert to kWh (h*r/6), then multiply by your electricity cost to get a dollar figure (h*r*E/6). Your revenue depends on the hashrate of the everyone else, which we’ll call g, and on average you receive (p*R*h/(h+g)) every 600 seconds where p is the price of Bitcoin in dollars and R is the reward (subsidy and fees) you receive from a block. Your profit is just the difference, namely h*(p*R/(h+g) – r*E/6). Assuming you’re able to manufacture and deploy hashrate relatively easily, at least in comparison to everyone else, you can optimise your profit by varying h while the other variables (bitcoin price p, block reward R, miner performance r, electricity cost E, and external hashpower g) remain constant (ie, set the derivative of that formula with respect to h to zero and simplify) which gives a result of 6gpR/Er = (g+h)^2.

This is solvable for h (square root both sides and subtract g), but if we assume Bitmain is clever and well funded enough to have already essentially optimised their profits, we can get a better sense of what this means. Since g+h is just the total bitcoin hashrate, if we call that t, and divide both sides, we get 6gpR/Ert = t, or g/t = (Ert)/(6pR), which tells us what proportion of hashrate the rest of the network can have (g/t) if Bitmain has optimised its profits, or, alternative we can work out h/t = 1-g/t = 1-(Ert)/(6pR) which tells us what proportion of hashrate Bitmain will have if it has optimised its profits.  Plugging in E=$0.03 per kWH, r=0.1 J/GH, t=6e6 TH/s, p=$2400/BTC, R=12.5 BTC gives a figure of 0.9 – so given the current state of the network, and Guy Corem’s cost estimate, Bitmain would optimise its day to day profits by controlling 90% of mining hashrate. I’m not convinced $0.03 is an entirely reasonable figure, though — my inclination is to suspect something like $0.08 per kWh is more reasonable; but even so, that only reduces Bitmain’s optimal control to around 73%.

Because of that incentive structure, if Bitmain’s current hashrate is lower than that amount, then lowering manufacturing costs for own-use miners by 15% (per Sam Cole’s estimates) and lowering ongoing costs by 15%-30% by using ASICBoost could have a compounding effect by making it easier to quickly expand. (It’s not clear to me that manufacturing a line of ASICBoost-only miners to reduce manufacturing costs by 15% necessarily makes sense. For one thing, this would come at a cost of not being able to mine with them while they are state of the art, then sell them on to customers once a more efficient model has been developed, which seems like it might be a good way to manage inventory. For another, it vastly increases the impact of ASICBoost not being available: rather than simply increasing electricity costs by 15%-30%, it would mean reducing output to 10%-25% of what it was, likely rendering the hardware immediately obsolete)

Using the same formula, it’s possible to work out a ratio of bitcoin price (p) to hashrate (t) that makes it suboptimal for a manufacturer to control a hashrate majority (at least just due to normal mining income): h/t < 0.5, 1-Ert/6pR < 0.5, so t > 3pR/Er. Plugging in p=2400, R=12.5, e=0.08, r=0.1, this gives a total hash rate of 11.25M TH/s, almost double the current hash rate. This hashrate target would obviously increase as the bitcoin price increases, halve if the block reward halves (if a fall in the inflation subsidy is not compensated by a corresponding increase in fee income eg), increase if the efficiency of mining hardware increases, and decrease if the cost of electricity increases. For a simpler formula, assuming the best hosting price is $0.08 per kWh, and while the Antminer S9’s efficiency at 0.1 J/GH is state of the art, and the block reward is 12.5 BTC, the global hashrate in TH/s should be at least around 5000 times the price (ie 3R/Er = 4787.5, near enough to 5000).

Note that this target also sets a limit on the range at which mining can be profitable: if it’s just barely better to allow other people to control >50% of miners when your cost of electricity is E, then for someone else whose cost of electricity is 2*E or more, optimal profit is when other people control 100% of hashrate, that is, you don’t mine at all. Thus if the best large scale hosting globally costs $0.08/kWh, then either mining is not profitable anywhere that hosting costs $0.16/kWh or more, or there’s strong centralisation pressure for a mining hardware manufacturer with access to the cheapest electrictiy to control more than 50% of hashrate. Likewise, if Bitmain really can do hosting at $0.03/kWh, then either they’re incentivised to try to control over 50% of hashpower, or mining is unprofitable at $0.06/kWh and above.

If Bitmain (or any mining ASIC manufacturer) is supplying the majority of new hashrate, they actually have a fairly straightforward way of achieving that goal: if they dedicate 50-70% of each batch of ASICs built for their own use, and sell the rest, with the retail price of the sold miners sufficient to cover the manufacturing cost of the entire batch, then cashflow will mostly take care of itself. At $1200 retail price and $500 manufacturing costs (per Jimmy Song’s numbers), that strategy would imply targeting control of up to about 58% of total hashpower. The above formula would imply that’s the profit-maximising target at the current total hashrate and price if your average hosting cost is about $0.13 per kWh. (Those figures obviously rely heavily on the accuracy of the estimated manufacturing costs of mining hardware; at $400 per unit and $1200 retail, that would be 67% of hashpower, and about $0.09 per kWh)

Strategies like the above are also why this analysis doesn’t apply to miners who buy their hardware rather from a vendor, rather than building their own: because every time they increase their own hash rate (h), the external hashrate (g) also increases as a direct result, it is not valid to assume that g is constant when optimising h, so the partial derivative and optimisation is in turn invalid, and the final result is not applicable.


Bitmain’s mining pool, AntPool, obviously doesn’t directly account for 58% or more of total hashpower; though currently they’re the pool with the most hashpower at about 20%. As I understand it, Bitmain is also known to control at least and ConnectBTC which add another 7.6%. The other “Emergent Consensus” supporting pools (,, ViaBTC) account for about 22% of hashpower, however, which brings the total to just under 50%, roughly the right ballpark — and an additional 8% or 9% could easily be pointed at other public pools like slush or f2pool. Whether the “emergent consensus” pools are aligned due to common ownership and contractual obligations or simply similar interests is debatable, though. ViaBTC is funded by Bitmain, and Canoe was built and sold by Bitmain, which means strong contractual ties might exist, however  Jihan Wu, Bitmain’s co-founder, has disclaimed equity ties to is owned by Roger Ver, but I haven’t come across anything implying a business relationship between Bitmain and beyond supplier and customer. However John McAffee’s apparently forthcoming MGT mining pool is both partnered with Bitmain and advised by Roger Ver, so the existence of tighter ties may be plausible.

It seems likely to me that Bitmain is actually behaving more altruistically than is economically rational according to the analysis above: while it seems likely to me that,, ViaBTC and Canoe have strong ties to Bitmain and that Bitmain likely has a high level of influence — whether due to contracts, business relationships or simply due to the loyalty and friendship — this nevertheless implies less control over the hashpower than direct ownership and management, and likely less profit. This could be due to a number of factors: perhaps Bitmain really is already sufficiently profitable from mining that they’re focusing on building their business in other ways; perhaps they feel the risks of centralised mining power are too high (and would ultimately be a risk to their long term profits) and are doing their best to ensure that mining power is decentralised while still trying to maximise their return to their investors; perhaps the rate of expansion implied by this analysis requires more investment than they can cover from their cashflow, and additional hashpower is funded by new investors who are simply assigned ownership of a new mining pool, which may helps Bitmain’s investors assure themselves they aren’t being duped by a pyramid scheme and gives more of an appearance of decentralisation.

It seems to me therefore there could be a variety of ways in which Bitmain may have influence over a majority of hashpower:

  • Direct ownership and control, that is being obscured in order to avoid an economic backlash that might result from people realising over 50% of hashpower is controlled by one group
  • Contractual control despite independent ownership, such that customers of Bitmain are committed to follow Bitmain’s lead when signalling blocks in order to maintain access to their existing hardware, or to be able to purchase additional hardware (an account on reddit appearing to belong to the GBMiners pool has suggested this is the case)
  • Contractual control due to offering essential ongoing services, eg support for physical hosting, or some form of mining pool services — maintaining the infrastructure for covert ASICBoost may be technically complex enough that Bitmain’s customers cannot maintain it themselves, but that Bitmain could relatively easily supply as an ongoing service to their top customers.
  • Contractual influence via leasing arrangements rather than sale of hardware — if hardware is leased to customers, or financing is provided, Bitmain could retain some control of the hardware until the leasing or financing term is complete, despite not having ownership
  • Coordinated investment resulting in cartel-like behaviour — even if there is no contractual relationship where Bitmain controls some of its customers in some manner, it may be that forming a cartel of a few top miners allows those miners to increase profits; in that case rather than a single firm having control of over 50% of hashrate, a single cartel does. While this is technically different, it does not seem likely to be an improvement in practice. If such a cartel exists, its members will not have any reason to compete against each other until it has maximised its profits, with control of more than 70% of the hashrate.


So, conclusions:

  • ASICBoost is worth using if you are able to. Bitmain is able to.
  • Nothing I’ve seen suggest Bitmain is economically clueless; so since ASICBoost is worth doing, and Bitmain is able to use it on mainnet, Bitmain are using it on mainnet.
  • Independently of ASICBoost, Bitmain’s most profitable course of action seems to be to control somewhere in the range of 50%-80% of the global hashrate at current prices and overall level of mining.
  • The distribution of hashrate between mining pools aligned with Bitmain in various ways makes it plausible, though not certain, that this may already be the case in some form.
  • If all this hashrate is benefiting from ASICBoost, then my estimate is that the value of ASICBoost is currently about $72M per annum
  • Avoiding dominant mining manufacturers tending towards supermajority control of hashrate requires either a high global hashrate or a relatively low price — the hashrate in TH/s should be about 5000 times the price in dollars.
  • The current price is about $2400 USD/BTC, so the corresponding hashrate to prevent centralisation at that price point is 12M TH/s. Conversely, the current hashrate is about 6M TH/s, so the maximum price that doesn’t cause untenable centralisation pressure is $1200 USD/BTC.

          Anthony Towns: Bitcoin: ASICBoost and segwit2x – Background        

I’ve been trying to make heads or tails of what the heck is going on in Bitcoin for a while now. I’m not sure I’ve actually made that much progress, but I’ve at least got some thoughts that seem coherent now.

First, this post is background for people playing along at home who aren’t familiar with the issues or jargon: Bitcoin is a currency based on an electronic ledger that essentially tracks how much Bitcoin exists, and how someone can be authorised to transfer it to someone else; that ledger is currently about 100GB in size, growing at a rate of about a gigabyte a week. The ledger is updated by miners, who compete by doing otherwise pointless work running cryptographic hashes (and in so doing obtain a “proof of work”), and in return receive a reward (denominated in bitcoin) made up from fees by people transacting and an inflation subsidy. Different miners are competing in an essentially zero-sum game, because fees and inflation are essentially a fixed amount that is (roughly) divided up amongst miners according to how much work they do — so while you get more reward for doing more work, it comes at a cost of other miners receiving less reward.

Because the ledger only grows by (about) a gigabyte each week (or a megabyte per block, which is roughly every ten minutes), there is a limit on how many transactions can be included each week (ie, supply is limited), which both increases fees and limits adoption — so for quite a while now, people in the bitcoin ecosystem with a focus on growth have wanted to work out ways to increase the transaction rate. Initial proposals in mid 2015 suggested allowing miners to regularly determine the limit with no official upper bound (nominally “BIP100“, though never actually formally submitted as a proposal), or to increase by a factor of eight within six months, then double every two years after that, until reaching almost 200 times the current size by 2036 (BIP101), or to increase at a rate of about 17% per annum (suggested on the mailing list, but never formally proposed BIP103). These proposals had two major risks: locking in a lot of growth that may turn out to be unnecessary or actively harmful, and requiring what is called a “hard fork”, which would render the existing bitcoin software unable to track the ledger after the change took affect with the possible outcome that two ledgers would coexist and would in turn cause a range of problems. To reduce the former risk, a minimal compromise proposal was made to “kick the can down the road” and just double the ledger growth rate, then figure out a more permanent solution down the road (BIP102) (or to double it three times — to 2MB, 4MB then 8MB — over four years, per Adam Back). A few months later, some of the devs figured out a way to more or less achieve this that also doesn’t require a hard fork, and comes with a host of other benefits, and proposed an update called “segregated witness” at the December 2015 Scaling Bitcoin conference.

And shortly after that things went completely off the rails, and have stayed that way since. Ultimately there seem to be two camps: one group is happy to deploy segregated witness, and is eager to make further improvements to Bitcoin based on that (this is my take on events); while the other group does not, perhaps due to some combination of being opposed to the segregated witness changes directly, wanting a more direct upgrade immediately, being afraid deploying segregated witness will block other changes, or wanting to take control of the bitcoin codebase/roadmap from the current developers (take this with a grain of salt: these aren’t opinions I share or even find particularly reasonable, so I can’t do them justice when describing them; cf ViaBTC’s post to get that side of the argument made directly, eg)

Most recently, and presumably on the basis that the opposed group are mostly worried that deploying segregated witness will prevent or significantly delay a more direct increase in capacity, a bitcoin venture capitalist, Barry Silbert, organised an agreement amongst a number of companies including many miners, to both activate segregated witness within the next month, and to do a hard fork capacity increase by the end of the year. This is the “segwit2x” project; named because it takes segregated witness, (“segwit”) and then additionally doubles its capacity increase (“2x”). This agreement is not supported by any of the existing dev team, and is being developed by Jeff Garzik (who was behind BIP100 and BIP102 mentioned above) in a forked codebase renamed “btc1“, so if successful, this may also satisfy members of the opposed group motivated by a desire to take control of the bitcoin codebase and roadmap, despite that not being an explicit part of the agreement itself.

To me, the arguments presented for opposing segwit don’t really seem plausible. As far as future development goes, a roadmap was put out in December 2015 and endorsed by many developers that explicitly included a hard fork for increased capacity (“moderate block size increase proposals (such as 2/4/8 …)”), among many other things, so the risk of no further progress happening seems contrary to the facts to me. The core bitcoin devs are extremely capable in my estimation, so replacing them seems a bad idea from the start, but even more than that, they take a notably hands off approach to dictating where Bitcoin will go in future — so, to my mind, it seems like a more sensible thing to try would be working with them to advance the bitcoin ecosystem in whatever direction you want, rather than to try to replace them outright. In that context, it seems particularly notable to me that in the eighteen months between the segregated witness proposal and the segwit2x agreement, there hasn’t been any serious attempt to propose a hard fork capacity increase that meets the core dev’s quality standards; for instance there has never been any code for BIP100, and of the various hard forking codebases that have arisen by advocates of the hard fork approach — Bitcoin XT, Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Unlimited, btc1, and Bitcoin ABC — none have been developed in a way that’s suitable for the changes to be reviewed and merged into core via a pull request in the normal fashion. Further, since one of the main criticisms of a hard fork is that deployment costs are higher when it is done in a short time frame (weeks or a few months versus a year or longer), that lack of engagement over the past 18 months followed by a desperate rush now seems particularly poor to me.

A different explanation for the opposition to segwit became public in April, however. ASICBoost is a patent-pending optimisation to the way Bitcoin miners do the work that entitles them to extend the ledger (for which they receive the rewards described earlier), and while there are a few ways of making use of ASICBoost, perhaps the most effective way turns out to be incompatible with segwit. There are three main alternatives to the covert, segwit-incompatible approach, all of which have serious downsides. The first, overt ASICBoost via modifying the block version reveals that you’re using ASICBoost, which would either (a) encourage other miners to also use the optimisation reducing your profits, (b) give the patent holder cause to charge you royalties or cause other problems (assuming the patent is eventually granted and deemed valid), or (c) encourage the bitcoin community at large to change the ecosystem rules so that the optimisation no longer works. The second, mining empty blocks via ASICBoost means you don’t gain any fee income, reducing your revenue and hence profit. And the third, rolling the extranonce to find a collision rather than combining partial transaction trees increases the preparation work by a factor of ten or so, which is probably enough to outweigh the savings from the optimisation in the first place.

If ASICBoost were being used by a significant number of miners, and segregated witness prevents its continued use in practice, then we suddenly have a very plausible explanation for much of the apparent madness: the loss of the optimisation could significantly increase some miners’ costs or reduce their revenue, reducing profit either way (a high end estimate of $100,000,000 per year was given in the original explanation), which would justify significant investment in blocking that change. Further, an honest explanation of the problem would not be feasible, because this would be just as bad as doing the optimisation overtly — it would increase competition, alert the potential patent owners, and might cause the optimisation to be deliberately disabled — all of which would also negatively affect profits. As a result, there would be substantial opposition to segwit, but the reasons presented in public for this opposition would be false, and it would not be surprising if the people presenting these reasons only give half-hearted effort into providing evidence — their purpose is simply to prevent or at least delay segwit, rather than to actually inform or build a new consensus. To this line of thinking the emphasis on lack of communication from core devs or the desire for a hard fork block size increase aren’t the actual goal, so the lack of effort being put into resolving them over the past 18 months from the people complaining about them is no longer surprising.

With that background, I think there are two important questions remaining:

  1. Is it plausible that preventing ASICBoost would actually cost people millions in profit, or is that just an intriguing hypothetical that doesn’t turn out to have much to do with reality?
  2. If preserving ASICBoost is a plausible motivation, what will happen with segwit2x, given that by enabling segregated witness, it does nothing to preserve ASICBoost?

Well, stay tuned…

          Passwordscon 2014 Videos        
These are the videos from the Passwordscon 2014 conference. Thanks for having me out to help record and render the videos.

Track 1

How we deciphered millions of users’ encrypted passwords without the decryption keys. - Josh Dustin (Canceled)

Is Pavlovian Password Management The Answer? - Lance James

DoCatsLikeLemon? – Advanced phrase attacks and analysis - Marco Preuß

Tradeoff cryptanalysis of password hashing schemes - Dmitry Khovratovich, Alex Biryukov, Johann Großschädl

Using cryptanalysis to speed-up password cracking - Christian Rechberger

Password Security in the PCI DSS - Jarred White

Defense with 2FA - Steve Thomas

I have the #cat so I make the rules - Yiannis Chrysanthou

Penetrate your OWA - Nate Power

Surprise talk + advisory release - Dominique Bongard

All your SAP P@$$w0ЯdZ belong to us - Dmitry Chastuhin, Alex Polyakov

Target specific automated dictionary generation - Matt Marx

Bitslice DES with LOP3.LUT - Steve Thomas

Net hashes: a review of many network protocols - Robert Graham

Energy-efficient bcrypt cracking - Katja Malvoni

The problem with the real world - Michal Špaček

Password Topology Histogram Wear-Leveling, a.k.a. PathWell - Rick Redman

Beam Me Up Scotty! – Passwords in the Enterprise - Dimitri Fousekis

Track 2

Welcome & Announcements - Jeremi Gosney, Per Thorsheim

Opening Keynote - Julia Angwin

Secure your email – Secure your password - Per Thorsheim

Highlights of CMU’s Recent Work in Preventing Bad Passwords - Sean Segreti, Blase Ur

Password Hashing Competition: the Candidates - Jean-Philippe Aumasson

What Microsoft would like from the Password Hashing Competition - Marsh Ray, Greg Zaverucha

How Forced Password Expiration Affects Password Choice - Bruce K. Marshall

Security for the People: End-User Authentication Security on the Internet - Mark Stanislav

Authentication in the Cloud – Building Service - Dan Cvrcek

How EFF is Making STARTTLS Resistant to Active Attacks - Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, Yan Zhu

Proof of work as an additional factor of authentication - Phillippe Paquet, Jason Nehrboss

The future of mobile authentication is here - Sam Crowther

Password hashing delegation: how to get clients work for you - Thomas Pornin

Throw the User ID Down the Well - Daniel Reich

Password Generators & Extended Character Set Passwords - Stephen Lombardo, William Gray

Encryption and Authentication: Passwords for all reasons. - Jeffrey Goldberg

Enhancing Password Based Key Derivation Techniques - Stephen Lombardo, Nick Parker

Capturing Passwords into the Secure Desktop - Marcio Almeida de Macedo, Bruno Gonçalves de Oliveira

          Coinstarter -        
CoinStarter aims to be the equivalent of Kickstarter for ICOs.
They are based on Waves platform.

"We are solving a problem
ICO's often times raise millions of dollars without having a product or even a team capable of building the product they promise. The past shows, that most of today's billion dollar companies has started out with less than $100k initial investment.

At CoinStarter, we are dedicated to allow buyers to diversify their portfolio by making a smaller investment first and make larger investments for products that actually deliver. We believe that companies aren't going to be successful because they can build a smart contract - they may not be techies but still be great in their field. We exist to help companies in all industries gain access to coin based fundraising, we'll help them connecting them to you, and the blockchain.
We've created a streamlined process for new ICO's.

Stage 1 - Angel Round
Projects without proven track record must start an Angel Round. After the Angel Round they can start a Series A if they succeed at delivering their promises. Angel rounds are capped at $100k worth of Bitcoin. After an Angel Round the company may proceed to Stage 2 or Stage 5.

Stage 2 - Series A
Projects that deliver a product and has a promise to grow, will be able to start a Series A.
Existing companies with a proven track record may be able to start a Series A without an Angel round. After Stage 2 the company may proceed to Stage 3 or Stage 5.

Stage 3 - Series B
If the the company is succeeding but needs more cash in order to achieve their required growth rate they may start a Series B. After Stage 3 the company may proceed to Stage 4 or Stage 5.

Stage 4 - Series C
This is an optional stage that may needed for some companies.

Stage 5 - Coin released to the public.
Why all the stages?

Stages will allow early investors to get more of the rewards for the risks they are taking on.
Investors can fund more companies and make smarter decisions by making companies deliver before giving them money they don't even need at an early stage.

And ultimately, successful companies that deliver, will have an organic hype for their next stage.
And that hype will be based not only on an idea, but Proof of Work."

The first ICO is CoinStarter itself.
Get 50 CoinStarter Tokens for signing up.

Earn more CoinStarter tokens by:

Referring a new member: Receive 11 tokens when they sign up
Referring a unique visitor: Receive 0,11 tokens at their first visit (after 10 seconds)
Log in to your account daily: Receive 0,43 tokens for each day when you visit your account page
Your referral starts a campaign: Receive 50 tokens when their campaign is approved
Your referral sends Bitcoin to a crowdfunding campaign: Receive 100 tokens for each Bitcoin sent to a project

Withdraw your tokens
We'll send your tokens into your Waves wallet.
Withdrawal will start when CoinStarter reaches Stage 5.
You can already enter your Waves wallet and we'll notify you when withdrawal becomes available.

Link: CoinStarter
          Beyond the Hashcash Proof-of-Work (there’s more to mining than hashing)        

"What if I told you, you could be mining with your phone" meme.Many people equate Proof of Work (PoW) with one particular instance of it.  It’s not hard to understand why. The Hashcash PoW is used not only in Bitcoin but in the […]

The post Beyond the Hashcash Proof-of-Work
(there’s more to mining than hashing)
appeared first on Cryptorials.

          Comment on The emperor’s new chains – seeing through the Blockchain hype by Brian Lewis        
I think it's a bit of a complicated 'yes and no' Some of the hype is just that. Ethereum is currently faster transacationally than BitCoin and transactions are only part of what it does - but I have seen some claims for it that seem hard to justify. Interestingly, there are indications of Ethereum moving from the slow BitCoin style 'Proof of work' to a hybrid model using a lighter (but possibly less secure) algorithm called 'Proof of stake' to add blocks to the chain. There are also state channels that Douglas mentioned, which effectively turn the Blockchain into a way of 'locking' a record or state which participants can then change and update quickly outside of the blockchain until the new state is agreed among the parties when it is 'locked' again by writing to the blockchain. This has it's own complications but is certainly interesting. With regard to this and Ethereum - Raiden Network is certainly worth Googling So in short, transactionally Ethereum at the moment is based on what BitCoin is doing and suffers from the same scale issues, fixing those still seems to involve the usual suspects of reduced consensus or moving transactions off the blockchain.
          How to Become Cryptocurrency Value Investor         

Man Who’s Made Over $400,000 Investing in Bitcoin Reveals His Strategy

Ever since Nas Daily’s video came out about how I earned over $400,000 with less than $10,000 investing in Bitcoin and Ethereum, I’ve been getting hundreds of questions from people around the world about how to get started with cryptocurrency investment.

First: I’m super glad there’s so much interest in cryptocurrency right now. I firmly do believe that cryptocurrency and blockchain technology has the potential to fundamentally change much of the way our world currently operates for the better. It reminds me a lot of the internet in the 90s.

Second: Investment in cryptocurrency isn’t something to be taken lightly. It’s extremely risky, extremely speculative, and extremely early stage still at this point in time. Countless speculators and day traders have lost their entire fortunes trading cryptocurrency. I was no different when I first started investing in crypto. The first $5000 I put into crypto fell almost immediately to less than $500 — a net loss of over 90%.

Third: All of the following words are entirely and solely my own opinion, and do not reflect any objective truth in the world or the opinions or perspective of any other individual or entity. I write them here merely so people can know how I personally approach cryptocurrency, and what I have personally found helpful in my foray into this realm.

I’m firmly of the opinion that one should never invest in something one doesn’t thoroughly understand, so I’m going to split this article into three parts.

The first part will speak to a broad explanation of what bitcoin and cryptocurrency at large are. The second will discuss my personal investment philosophy as it pertains to crypto. The third will show you step by step how to actually begin investing in crypto, if you so choose. Each section will be clearly delineated, so feel free to skip parts if they’re already familiar to you.

Part I: What is Bitcoin? Why is it useful?

Great question. If you want the full story behind the advent of bitcoin, I highly recommend the book Digital Gold. It traces the entire history of bitcoin from its inception all the way up to 2015. It’s an engrossing read, and highly informative.

For now, let’s start with a quick history lesson about bitcoin. Bitcoin was officially unveiled to the public in a white paper published October 31st, 2008. The white paper is actually extremely readable, very short (just 8 pages), and incredibly elegantly written. If you want to understand why bitcoin is so compelling straight from the horse’s mouth, you must read this paper. It will explain everything better than I or anyone else likely ever could.

I won’t delve too much into the technical details of how bitcoin works (which are better elucidated in the white paper), but will instead focus on a broader exploration of its history and implications.

Subpart: The Background Context of Bitcoin

Bitcoin was invented in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, and the crisis was a clear motivating factor for its creation.

Numerous banks and other financial institutions failed across the world, and had to be bailed out by governments at the expense of their taxpayers. This underscored the fragility of the modern financial system, where the health of our monetary system is reliant on banks and other financial institutions that we are forced to trust to make wise and prudent decisions with the money we give them. Too often for comfort, they fail to carry out this fiduciary responsibility to an adequate degree.

Of particular note is fractional reserve banking. When you give a bank $1,000, the bank doesn’t actually keep all that money for you. It goes out and is legally allowed to spend up to $900 of your money, and keep just $100 in the off chance that you ask for your money back.

In the most simplistic case, if you are the only depositor at this bank, and you ask for more than $100 back at once, the bank won’t be able to give you your money, because it doesn’t have it any more.
Shockingly, this is actually how banks work in reality. In the United States, the reserve requirement, or the percentage of net deposits banks are actually required to keep in liquid financial instruments on hand, is generally 10% for most banks. This means that if a bank has net deposits of a billion dollars, it needs to only keep 100 million on hand at any given time.

This is fine most of the time, as generally the customers of that bank won’t all try to cash out at the same time, and the bank is able to stay liquid. However, the moment customers start to question the bank‘s financial stability, things can go south very quickly. If just a small number of customers begin asking for all their deposits back, a bank can rapidly become depleted of all its liquid funds.

This leads to what’s known as a bank run, where the bank fails because it is unable to fulfill all the withdrawals customers demand. This can escalate quickly into a systemic bank panic, where multiple banks begin to suffer the same fate. Each successive failure compounds the collective panic, and quite quickly, the whole system can begin to collapse like a house of cards.

This is what led in large part to the Great Depression, for instance. The whole system is fundamentally predicated on trust in the system, and the second that vanishes, everything can go south incredibly quickly.

The financial crisis of 2008 highlighted yet another risk of the modern banking system. When a bank goes out and spends the 90% of net deposits it holds in investments, it can often make very bad bets, and lose all that money. In the case of the 2008 crisis, banks in particular bet on high risk subprime mortgages. These were mortgages taken out by borrowers very likely to become delinquent, to purchase houses that were sharply inflated in value by the rampant ease of acquiring a mortgage.

When those mortgages were defaulted on, the artificially inflated values of the homes began to collapse, and banks were left holding assets worth far less than the amount they had lent out. As a consequence, they now had nowhere near the amount of money that customers had given them, and began experiencing liquidity crises that led to their ultimate bankruptcy and demise.
After the Great Depression occurred, the government attempted to address this issue by creating the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which technically guarantees all customer deposits in participating banks up to $250,000 per account.

Unfortunately, the FDIC is just as dramatically underfunded as banks are. As the FDIC itself acknowledges, it holds enough money to cover just over 1% of all the deposits it insures. In other words, if banks reneged on any more than 1% of all their deposits, the FDIC itself would also fail, and everyone would yet again be left in the dust without recourse.
In fact, this has already happened. The FDIC used to have a sister corporation that insured savings and loan institutions, as it itself at the time only insured bank deposits, and not savings and loan institution deposits. This was known as the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation, or FSLIC.

In the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, over 1,000 of the 3,200 savings and loan institutions in the United States failed in rapid succession. The FSLIC almost immediately became insolvent itself, and had to be recapitalized several times with over $25 billion dollars of taxpayer money. Even this didn’t even come close to being sufficient to solve the crisis, and the FSLIC managed to only resolve the failure of less than 300 of the 1000 bankrupt institutions, even with all the handouts from taxpayers, before it just flat out gave up and dissolved itself.

For the most part, things generally work fine on a day to day basis. This belies, however, the true fragility of the system. It’s hard to anticipate these things before they happen, because it’s so easy to fall into the trap of assuming that things will always be as they mostly always have been. If things have been fine yesterday, and the day before, and the few years before that, or even the few decades before that, we just naturally assume that they will continue to be fine for the indefinite future.

History has proven this to be an often fatal assumptive error. The second things start to stop working, they tend to stop working in an extremely rapid, catastrophic fashion. There’s very little, if anything, stopping us from seeing another Great Depression sometime in the future, be it the near or longer term future. When that does happen — and it almost certainly will, sooner or later, if history is any good teacher — those who haven’t adequately prepared for it and taken appropriate prophylactic measures may very well find themselves in a bad spot.

Subpart: Fiat Currencies Compound the Dilemma

Mistrust in fiat currencies, or currencies created and backed solely by faith in a government, both because of the modern banking system and because of the inherent nature of fiat currency, has in large part been why gold has been used as such a reliable store of value over millennia.

Fiat currencies are the world’s predominant form of currency today. The US dollar or the British pound, for instance, are fiat currencies. These are currencies that are entirely controlled in their supply and creation by a national government, and are backed by nothing but faith in that government.

This has proved a mistake countless times throughout history. Zimbabwe is a classic example, where the Zimbabwean dollar, thanks to an incompetent government among other factors, experienced enormous levels of hyperinflation. At one point, inflation was estimated at almost 80 billionpercent in just a single month.The following image gives an idea of just how rapidly and absurdly a fiat currency can spiral out of control, once it reaches the point of no return.

Lest we think this an isolated instance, Venezuela is experiencing incredibly similar hyperinflation in the present-day, right this moment. The Venezuelan Bolívar inflated over 800% in 2016, and shows no signs of stopping in 2017.

The US hasn’t been immune to these crises, either. The US began its foray into fiat currency with the issuance of Continental Currency in 1775. Just three years later, Continental Currency was worth less than 20% of its original value. 13 years later, hyperinflation entirely collapsed the currency, and the US had to pass a law guaranteeing that all future currencies would be backed by gold and silver, and that no unbacked currencies could be issued by any state.

In comparison, the early history of the US dollar makes the relative volatility of bitcoin in these first 9 years look like peanuts.

Once adopted out of necessity, the gold standard became part and parcel of US currency, just as it was with most other currencies from around the world. The gold standard removed some of the need to have pure faith in US dollars in of themselves, as it guaranteed that all paper money the US issued would be exchangeable at a fixed rate for gold upon demand.

Naturally, you still had to believe that the government would actually keep enough gold to fulfill all these demands (déjà vu and foreshadowing, anyone? Any flashbacks to fractional reserve banking yet?), but it was certainly better than nothing.

Gold, unlike fiat currencies, requires no trust and faith in a government to responsibly manage its money supply and other financial dealings in order to believe that it will retain its value well over time. This is because gold has no central authority that controls it and effectively dictates its supply and creation arbitrarily. Gold is fundamentally scarce, and only a small amount of it can be mined every year and added to the whole net supply. To date, the estimated total of all the gold ever mined in the history of humankind is only 165,000 metric tons. To put that in perspective, all that gold wouldn’t even fill up 3.5 Olympic sized swimming pools.

No government, no matter how much they wanted to or needed to, could simply conjure up more gold on demand. Fiat currencies, on the other hand, can and often have been printed on demand by governments whenever they happened to be short on cash and needed a quick infusion.

This printing of more money generally leads to inflation, as the total value of all the money in existence rationally should stay the same, no matter how many dollars are printed. Hence, if more dollars are printed, each dollar is worth fractionally less of the total money supply.

In fact, governments design their currencies and monetary policies to inflate intentionally. This is why $100 US dollars in 1913 (when the government officially started tracking inflation rates) is equivalent to $2,470 dollars today, just over 100 years later.

In fact, the average inflation rate of the US dollar over that time period was about 3.22%. This seems low, but in reality means that prices double just every twenty years. In other words, your money becomes half as valuable if you keep it in US dollars every twenty years. Doesn’t seem ultra cool to me.

Gold, on the other hand, doesn’t inflate like fiat currencies do. That’s because there’s an intrinsically limited supply, and consequently, things tend to cost the same in gold over long periods of time. In fact, 2,000 years ago, Roman centurions were paid about 38.58 ounces of gold. In US dollars today, this comes out to about $48,350. The base salary of a captain in the US army today comes out to just about the same at $48,500.

This makes gold, in many ways, a better store of value based on fundamental principles than fiat currencies over time. You don’t have to trust anyone to trust that your gold will retain its value relatively well across the sands of time.

Unfortunately, the gold standard collapsed multiple times during the 20th century and was ultimately abandoned altogether by almost every nation in the world, because governments effectively played fractional reserve banking with their gold reserves. Who could blame them? It must be irresistibly tempting, knowing that in all likelihood, the vast majority of the time, only a fraction of people will ever want to trade in their dollars for gold. Why hold all that gold when you could hold just a fraction of it and get to spend the rest with no consequences in the short term?

Inevitably, this caught up with each and every government over time. For the United States, the gold standard was suspended in the aftermath of the Great Depression. The Bretton Woods international agreement instituted in the aftermath of World War II restored the gold standard to the US dollar, but this was short lived.

Under the Bretton Woods system, numerous foreign governments held US dollars as an indirect and more convenient method of holding gold, as US dollars were supposedly directly exchangeable at a fixed rate for gold. However, by 1966, gold reserves actually held by the US were already pitifully low, with only $13.2 billion worth of gold being held by the government.

By 1971, other governments had caught on to this, and began demanding the exchange of all their US dollars for gold, as was promised to them. Naturally, the US had nowhere near enough gold to fulfill their promises, and this became a government version of the bank run, essentially.

The US chose instead to fully renege on their promised exchange rate, and announced in what was known as the Nixon shock that the US dollar would no longer be redeemable for gold, and would henceforth be backed solely by faith in the US government (very faith-inspiring, no?).

Almost every nation quickly followed suit, and since then, fiat currencies have been allowed free reign to grow as they please with no accountability whatsoever in how much a government chooses to expand their money supply.

This, thus, requires anyone holding fiat currencies to have extreme trust that their government will manage their money supply responsibly, and not make poor financial decisions that will severely devalue the currency they hold. This compounds with the trust one must hold in the banks in which one deposits their fiat currency, to create an ultimate monetary system that has multiple points of very real possible failure, as history has shown time and again.

Holding gold privately removes the need to trust either of these points of failure in the modern banking system, but comes with its own host of problems. Namely, while gold has proven to be an excellent store of value over time, it is incredibly poor for actual day to day use in the modern economy. To transact with gold is excessively cumbersome and inconvenient. No one would consider walking around with an ounce of gold on them, measuring and shaving off exact portions of gold to pay for a cup of coffee, groceries, or a bus ride. Worse, it’s even more difficult and time consuming to send gold to anyone who isn’t physically in the same exact location as you.

For these reasons among others, fiat currencies have traditionally been preferred for everyday use, despite their many shortcomings and associated inherent risks.

No solution to this tradeoff conundrum has heretofore been discovered, or even necessarily possible. Bitcoin, however, with the aid of recent technological advances (computers and the internet), solves all of these issues. It takes the best of both worlds, and puts it into one beautiful, elegant solution.

Subpart: Bitcoin to the Rescue

Holy long-windedness, batman! 2,700 words later, and we finally get to talking about bitcoin. I’m as relieved as you are. Remind me never to write again.

Bitcoin was designed, essentially, as a better ‘digital gold’. It incorporates all of the best elements of gold — its inherent scarcity and decentralized nature — and then solves all the shortcomings of gold, in allowing it to be globally transactable in precise denominations extremely quickly.

How does it do this? In short, by emulating gold’s production digitally. Gold is physically mined out of the ground. Bitcoin is also ‘mined’, but digitally. The production of bitcoin is controlled by code that dictates you must find a specific answer to a given problem in order to unlock new bitcoins.
In technical terms, bitcoin utilizes the same proof-of-work system that Hashcash devised in 1997. This system dictates that one must find an input that when hashed, creates an output with a specific number of preceding zeros, among a few other specific requirements.

This is where the ‘crypto’, incidentally, in cryptocurrency comes from. Cryptographic hash functions are fundamentally necessary for the functioning of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as they are one-way functions. One-way functions work such that it is easy to calculate an output given an input, but near impossible to calculate the original input given the output. Hence, cryptographic one-way hash functions enable bitcoin’s proof of work system, as it ensures that it is nigh-impossible for someone to just see the output required to unlock new bitcoins, and calculate in reverse the input that created that output.

Instead, one must essentially brute-force the solution, by trying every single possible input in order to find one that creates an output that satisfies the specified requirements.

Bitcoin is further ingeniously devised to guarantee that on average, new bitcoins are only found every 10 minutes or so. It guarantees this by ensuring that the code that dictates the new creation of bitcoin automatically increases the difficulty of the proof-of-work system in proportion to the number of computers trying to solve the problem at hand.

For instance, in the very beginning of time, it was only the creator of bitcoin who was mining for bitcoins. He used one computer to do so. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume this one computer could try 1000 different values to hash a second. In a minute, it would hash 60,000 values, and in 10 minutes, 600,000 values.

The algorithm that dictates the mining of bitcoins, therefore, would ensure that on average, it would take 600,000 random tries of hashing values to find one that would fulfill the requirements of the specified output required to unlock the next block of bitcoins.

It can do this by making the problem more or less difficult, by requiring more or less zeros at the beginning of the output that solves the problem. The more zeros that are required at the beginning of the output, the more exponentially difficult the problem becomes to solve. To understand this why this is, click here for a reasonably good explanation.

In this case, it would require just the right amount of leading zeros and other characters to ensure that a solution is found on average every 600,000 or so tries.

However, imagine now that a new computer joins the network, and this one too can compute 1000 hashes a second. This effectively doubles the rate at which the problem can be solved, because now on average 600,000 hashes are tried every 5 minutes, not 10.

Bitcoin’s code elegantly solves this problem by ensuring that every 2,016 times new bitcoin is mined (roughly every 14 days at 10 minutes per block), the difficulty adjusts to become proportional to how much more or less hashing power is mining for bitcoin, such that on average new bitcoin continues to be found roughly every ten minutes or so.

You can see the present difficulty of mining bitcoin here. It should be evident from a half-second glance that the amount of computing power working to mine bitcoin right now is immense, and the difficulty is proportionally similarly immense. As of the time of this writing right now, there are close to 5 billion billion hashes per second being run to try to find the next block of bitcoin.

This system holds a lot of advantages even over gold’s natural system of being mined out of the ground. Gold’s mining is effectively random and not dictated by any perfect computer algorithm, and is consequently much more unpredictable in its output at any given moment. If a huge supply of gold is serendipitously found somewhere, it could theoretically dramatically inflate the rate at which gold enters the existing supply, and consequently cause an unanticipated decrease in the unit price of gold.

This isn’t just theoretical — it’s the reality of gold production. This graphillustrates vividly the fact that gold production has been dramatically increasing over time, and is today over four times higher than just a hundred years ago.

In fact, more than half of all the gold that has ever been mined in the history of humankind has been mined in just the past 50 years. The difficulty of mining gold doesn’t proportionally increase with the number of people mining it, or with technological innovations that make it significantly easier to locate and mine gold over time.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, will always be mined on a carefully regulated schedule, because it can perfectly adapt no matter how many people begin to mine it or how technologically advanced bitcoin mining hardware becomes.

In fact, it’s already known for certain that there will only ever be a total of 21 million bitcoins in the world.
This is because the amount of bitcoin that is mined every time a hash problem is solved and a new block is created halves every 210,000 blocks, or roughly every 4 years.

The initial reward per block used to be 50 bitcoins back in 2009. After about four years, this dropped to 25 bitcoins in late 2012. The last halving occurred in July 2016, and dropped the reward per block mined to 12.5. In 2020, this should go down to 6.25, in 2024, 3.125, and so forth, all the way until the reward drops to essentially zero.

When all is said and done, there will hence be 21 million bitcoins. Exactly that, no more, no less. Elegant, no? This eliminates yet another risk with extant currencies, gold included: there are absolutely no surprises when it comes to knowing the present and future supply of bitcoin. A million bitcoin will never be found randomly in California one day and incite a digital gold rush.

The total supply of bitcoin over time. Look how straight the line is getting over time! (Note halvings here too)
On top of this, bitcoin is trivially divisible to any arbitrary degree. Presently, the smallest unit of bitcoin is known as a satoshi, and is one hundred millionth of a single bitcoin (0.00000001 bitcoins = 1 satoshi).

This means that unlike gold, bitcoin is perfectly suited to not only being an inflation-proof store of value, but also a day-to-day transactable currency as well, it is easily divisible to any arbitrary amount. You can buy a cup of coffee with it just as easily as you can buy a car.

Moreover, bitcoin can be sent incredibly quickly and remotely over the internet to anyone anywhere in the world. This is because when bitcoin is mined, the miners are actually providing a service in powering the bitcoin network.

What happens when a miner mines bitcoin is actually that they add a ‘block’ to what is known as the ‘blockchain’. The blockchain is a ledger that contains a record of every transaction ever made with bitcoins since its inception. When someone decides to mine bitcoin, they must download the entire blockchain as it presently stands.

Then, when they successfully find a solution to the next hash problem and mine a block of bitcoins, something magical happens. They get to add the block they just mined to the end of the existing blockchain — and with it, they include every transaction that was initiated on the bitcoin network since the last block was mined. They then propagate this block they just created to the rest of the network of bitcoin miners, who all then update their own blockchains with this new block, and begin working on solving the next hash problem.

As a reward for providing this valuable service, miners are allowed to add a single transaction to the beginning of the block they mined, called the ‘coinbase transaction’. This transaction contains the brand new bitcoin that was created when they mined the block, and allows the miner to claim this bitcoin for themselves.

At this point, a particularly shrewd reader might become concerned with the fact that the reward for mining a new block of bitcoin gradually shrinks to zero. Won’t this cause miners to stop mining bitcoin, and consequently to stop providing the invaluable service that allows the bitcoin network to function and for transactions to be sent?

The answer is no, because miners are not solely rewarded by the new bitcoin that is generated each time they mine a block. Users may also send a transaction fee along with their transactions, which is paid out to any miner who decides to include their transaction in a block they mine. Over time, as the bitcoin network becomes used for more and more transactions, it is expected that transaction fees will be more than sufficient for incentivizing enough miners to continue mining blocks to keep the bitcoin network safe, secure, and robust.

It’s important that enough miners keep trying to mine blocks because this is another valuable service miners provide the network. Bitcoin, like gold, is powerful as a store of value because it is decentralized and trustless. There is no one central authority who holds all the power over bitcoin, just like no central authority holds power over gold.

No one person or government can decide to conjure up more bitcoin on demand, or to take it away. The only way the rules that govern bitcoin can be changed is if the software bitcoin miners run to mine bitcoin is changed.

Technically, any bitcoin miner could decide to change the software they run to mine bitcoin at any time. However, this still doesn’t have any impact on changing bitcoin itself. What it would do is cause a ‘hard fork’, or a divergence in the block chain.

This occurs because any block that the rogue miner who changed their software mines won’t be accepted by all the other miners who are still running the original software. Consequently, all the other miners will begin mining different blocks, and adding those to their blockchain. This leads to a fork in the road, essentially, where two completely different blockchains are formed — one by the rogue miner, and one by all the other miners.

Everything up to the point of the software change remains the same in both blockchains, but after that change, the blockchains diverge. Once diverged, they can never be reconciled and remerged.
This isn’t a concern, however, because the bitcoin network runs on consensus, and accepts whichever blockchain is the longest. In practice, this means that whichever blockchain has the most computing power behind it is effectively guaranteed to win, as they’ll be able to calculate the solutions to the hash problems and find new blocks faster than their less powerful competitors.

This does mean that in theory, bitcoin is vulnerable to what’s known as a 51% attack — an attack in which if a single entity was able to gain control of at least 51% of the total hashing power being directed at bitcoin mining, it could outpace a legitimate blockchain and temporarily take control of the network.

This is an extraordinarily difficult feat to accomplish, however, as the more people there are mining bitcoin, the harder it is to take over the network. At the current worldwide mining rate of almost 5 billion gigahashes a second, it would be extraordinarily difficult for even the most powerful organizations in the world (e.g., large-scale governments) to mount a successful 51% attack. It would be enormously costly, and quite possibly more financially detrimental to the attacker than to the network.

Indeed, the only thing a 51% attacker could really accomplish is destroying collective faith in bitcoin. They couldn’t somehow steal and gain all the value of bitcoins for itself. The attacker wouldn’t be able to generate new bitcoins on demand arbitrarily, and would still have to mine for them. They also would have no control over taking bitcoins created in the past that didn’t belong to them. The only thing they could do, really, is repeatedly spend bitcoin they already owned again and again, but even this is limited in its value, because ‘honest’ miner nodes would never accept these fraudulent payments.

Hence, no rationally self-interested bitcoin miner would ever try to mount a 51% attack, as in all likelihood, they would lose massive amounts of money doing so and gain almost nothing from the effort. The only reason someone would want to conduct a 51% attack is to attempt to destroy faith in bitcoin — large governments, for instance, who might one day feel that their fiat currencies that presently provide them great value to them are becoming threatened by bitcoin. However, the likelihood even of these enormous entities to successfully conduct a 51% attack is already becoming vanishingly small, as mining power increases.

Thus, bitcoin has perfectly utilized recent technological advances to create something heretofore impossible: an extremely safe, reliable, decentralized, and globally transactable digital and better version of gold, and possibly of all types of extant currency at large.

The advantages don’t stop there, however. Bitcoin is also ‘pseudonymous’, meaning that while all transactions ever conducted on the network are public and known by all as everything is recorded in the blockchain, unless someone knows who owns the bitcoins that are being used in these transactions, there is no way to trace those bitcoins and transactions back to a given person or entity.
This serves a dual purpose of both allowing extreme transparency when desired in making transactions, and also allowing a lot of anonymity when desired. If one wants to ensure that they have perfect undeniable proof of their transactions, all they have to do is prove they own certain bitcoins, and then any and all transactions conducted with those bitcoins are undeniably theirs and most certainly occurred.

If one wants, rather, to keep the movement of their money less overt, one simply needs to ensure that the bitcoins they own are never tied to their identities, and that their transactions on the network are obfuscated. This can be accomplished with a variety of methods, such as using a tumbler, which allows one to send bitcoins to an intermediary service that will mix these bitcoins with bitcoins from numerous other sources, and then send bitcoins forward to the intended destination from sources entirely unrelated to the sender’s original bitcoins.

To clarify this a bit more, bitcoins are stored at what are known as ‘addresses’. Think of this as an email address or a mailing address. These addresses allow for the storage, sending, and receiving of bitcoin. The blockchain ledger contains a complete record of the movement of bitcoins from one address to another.

A tumbler allows someone who say, wants to move bitcoins from address 10 to address 100, to instead move their bitcoins from address 10 to a totally random address, say 57. In some other transaction, the tumbler has accepted bitcoins from someone entirely unrelated at say, address 20, who wanted to send the coins ultimately to 200 and sent these instead to another completely random address 42. It then sends the coins stored at address 42 from sender 2 to the address sender 1 originally desired, 100, and sends the coins stored at address 57 from sender 1 to the address sender 2 desired, 200.

This is highly simplified, but effectively how a tumbler works, albeit at much larger scale, and with many more senders and receivers of all sorts of varying amounts.

This ability to transact more anonymously in a digital, global fashion than ever before has indeed opened the gateway to some of bitcoin’s more infamous use cases. Much illicit activity has been enabled by this pseudonymity of bitcoin, including the sale of drugs and other illegal goods online. A more recent development has also been ransomware, whereby malware can now cut straight to the chase and lock up your computer and demand straight up money in the form of bitcoin in exchange for the release of your computer’s data.

These developments have been enabled not only by bitcoin’s pseudonymity, but also the irrevocability of transactions. Unlike current forms of digital payment, such as credit cards and bank transfers, bitcoin transactions are irreversible and do not involve any middleman who can mediate between disputes.

This has its disadvantages, but also its advantages, and was indeed one of the primary benefits the creator of bitcoin (a pseudonymous as-of-yet unidentified figure himself, Satoshi Nakamoto) outlined in the bitcoin white paper. In his own words:
Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model. Completely non-reversible transactions are not really possible, since financial institutions cannot avoid mediating disputes.
The cost of mediation increases transaction costs, limiting the minimum practical transaction size and cutting off the possibility for small casual transactions, and there is a broader cost in the loss of ability to make non-reversible payments for nonreversible services. With the possibility of reversal, the need for trust spreads.
Merchants must be wary of their customers, hassling them for more information than they would otherwise need. A certain percentage of fraud is accepted as unavoidable. These costs and payment uncertainties can be avoided in person by using physical currency, but no mechanism exists to make payments over a communications channel without a trusted party.
What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party. Transactions that are computationally impractical to reverse would protect sellers from fraud, and routine escrow mechanisms could easily be implemented to protect buyers.
As Satoshi notes, bitcoin’s irreversible, trustless nature removes the need for any middlemen to mediate and broker the process of payments from one person to another. Middlemen (e.g. banks and credit card networks) inherently introduce overhead costs and inefficiency into the system, which make transactions — and micropayments in particular — more costly than would otherwise be the case.

Fraud is also inherently eliminated, as any transaction propagated and confirmed by the bitcoin network by 6 or more blocks is generally accepted to be impossible to ever revoke.

Trustlessness in this sense is a huge component and advantage of bitcoin and cryptocurrency at large. Another ground-breaking innovation the blockchain introduces is the concept of a smart contract, or a contract that similarly requires no trust or middleman to mediate, but is rather contractually executed in a deterministic fashion through code run on the blockchain.

Traditionally, with a legal contract, two parties agree to certain terms with the understanding that if one party reneges, the other party can seek legal recourse with the governmental justice system. Lawsuits, however, can often be inordinately expensive, and in many cases the outcome is far from certain. A good or bad lawyer can make or break a case, and one is also at the mercy of a judge and/or jury and their subjective, possibly mercurial whims. Not the most efficient or foolproof system.
          Constructive Direct Action Against Censorship        

The past few weeks have highlighted the vulnerability of centralized information systems to censorship: online speech is only as strong as the weakest intermediary. Sites hosting legitimate speech were caught up in an anti-counterfeiting raid by the Department of Homeland Security, EveryDNS stopped hosting’s DNS, Amazon refused hosting service to WikiLeaks, and independent protesters conducted denial-of-service attacks on businesses refusing service to WikiLeaks. If the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act (COICA; the internet censorship bill introduced in the US Senate) or something like it passes, the threat centralization poses to First Amendment-protected speech may be unavoidable. Corrective action — designing, implementing, and deploying robust, fault-tolerant architectures — will improve the security and availability of the internet infrastructure generally, to the benefit of all.

What, then, can digital activists do to protect speech on the internet? Fortunately, there are a bunch of technical projects dedicated to reducing centralization in the internet infrastructure. Some are in the idea stage, some are up and running, and some are in-between. All of them could use help: development, documentation, security review, server infrastructure, testing, and evangelizing. EFF urges technologists of all stripes and skill levels to work on potential solutions to the centralization problem.

In this post I’ll summarize a few interesting projects, but this list is hardly exhaustive.

The Dot-P2P Project, an alternative DNS hierarchy that resists censorship. The project aims to create a new top-level domain, .p2p, and name-resolution software that will hook into the normal client DNS resolver. (However, the new software will not interfere with name resolution for traditional TLDs like .com and .net.) Dot-p2p developers expect the .p2p service infrastructure to be mobile and hence flexible under attack; by contrast, administration is currently expected to be centralized. However, the developers would like to see a design for decentralized administration as well.

The Tahoe Least-Authority File System, a highly fault-tolerant, secure internet filesystem. Historically, network filesystems such as SMB/CIFS and NFS have been both centralized (having a single server) and insecure (lacking any authentication, confidentiality, or integrity for the data). Previous work, such as The Coda Filesystem and Mazières’ SFS, has attempted to address these problems. Tahoe-LAFS is a new effort in this area with an innovative, fine-grained internet-strength security model. Tahoe-LAFS could be used as the basis for a censorship-resistant, confidential, tamper-resistant publishing platform. Transported over Tor, it could also be anonymous.

The Tor Project, an anonymizing overlay network. Although better-known than the other projects described in this post, Tor remains a fruitful project to work on and there is plenty of work left to do. In particular, the use of Tor hidden services lags behind the use of Tor on the client side for many reasons, including performance and the need for more server infrastructure. And to help defeat censorship systems, there is always a need for more people run Tor Bridge Relays.

BitCoin, a decentralized internet currency. Digital cash systems, usually based on cryptographic “proof of work” schemes, have been around since 1990. Some digital cash systems are anonymous or pseudonymous (using e.g. Chaum’s blind signatures), but not all are. Historically, digital cash systems have not succeeded; BitCoin is a new attempt that may be promising. You can download and run the code now, and you can indeed buy things with BitCoins.

It may be that some or all of these projects do not succeed, or succeed only partially. That is to be expected — decentralizing and hardening the internet infrastructure and applications against censorship is an ongoing research and development project. The only way to progress is gradually and with effort, but the payoff could be huge.

          Let's Talk Bitcoin! #310 - Proof of Work and the Monument of Immutability        

On Todays Episode of Let's Talk Bitcoin...

Andreas recently spoke to the Silicon Valley Bitcoin Meetup group about the power of proof of work, and how although the way we do it with Bitcoin is new, the concept itself is very old.

The first part of this episode is Andreas's talk, followed by audience Q&A

Content for Episode 310 was provided by Andreas Antonopolous, the Plug & Play Center that hosted him and the audience asking valuable questions. Jared Rubens provided the LTB theme song, This episode was lightly edited by Adam B. Levine.

          Episode 128: #128: State-Sponsored Cleaning Lady        

This week Dave and Gunnar talk about: DDoS attack on DynDNS, DDoS Coin, and a USB killstick.


Cutting Room Floor


We Give Thanks

  • The D&G Show Slack Clubhouse for the discussion topics!

Launch Date: Wed, 09 Dec 2015 04:35:09 GMT

No premine. No IPO. Forum Payouts:


Proof of work

  • Algorithm: scrypt
  • Block reward: 1 BUCKS, no halving
  • Max height: 493,077 (Approximately 1 year, after this network will not accept PoW)

Proof of Stake
  • PoS without coin age
  • Max reorganization depth: 500 blocks
  • Block time: 64 seconds
  • Difficulty retarget: every block
  • PoS Reward: 1 BUCKS
  • Min transaction fee: 0.0001 BUCKS
  • Fees are paid to miners
  • Confirmations: 10, maturity: 50
  • Min stake confirmations: 50
  • P2P port: 1337, RPC port: 1338

         WALLET        SOURCE         BlockExplorer

Alternative Windows Wallet Host








          Constructive Direct Action Against Censorship        

The past few weeks have highlighted the vulnerability of centralized information systems to censorship: online speech is only as strong as the weakest intermediary. Sites hosting legitimate speech were caught up in an anti-counterfeiting raid by the Department of Homeland Security, EveryDNS stopped hosting’s DNS, Amazon refused hosting service to WikiLeaks, and independent protesters conducted denial-of-service attacks on businesses refusing service to WikiLeaks. If the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act (COICA; the internet censorship bill introduced in the US Senate) or something like it passes, the threat centralization poses to First Amendment-protected speech may be unavoidable. Corrective action — designing, implementing, and deploying robust, fault-tolerant architectures — will improve the security and availability of the internet infrastructure generally, to the benefit of all.

What, then, can digital activists do to protect speech on the internet? Fortunately, there are a bunch of technical projects dedicated to reducing centralization in the internet infrastructure. Some are in the idea stage, some are up and running, and some are in-between. All of them could use help: development, documentation, security review, server infrastructure, testing, and evangelizing. EFF urges technologists of all stripes and skill levels to work on potential solutions to the centralization problem.

In this post I’ll summarize a few interesting projects, but this list is hardly exhaustive.

The Dot-P2P Project, an alternative DNS hierarchy that resists censorship. The project aims to create a new top-level domain, .p2p, and name-resolution software that will hook into the normal client DNS resolver. (However, the new software will not interfere with name resolution for traditional TLDs like .com and .net.) Dot-p2p developers expect the .p2p service infrastructure to be mobile and hence flexible under attack; by contrast, administration is currently expected to be centralized. However, the developers would like to see a design for decentralized administration as well.

The Tahoe Least-Authority File System, a highly fault-tolerant, secure internet filesystem. Historically, network filesystems such as SMB/CIFS and NFS have been both centralized (having a single server) and insecure (lacking any authentication, confidentiality, or integrity for the data). Previous work, such as The Coda Filesystem and Mazières’ SFS, has attempted to address these problems. Tahoe-LAFS is a new effort in this area with an innovative, fine-grained internet-strength security model. Tahoe-LAFS could be used as the basis for a censorship-resistant, confidential, tamper-resistant publishing platform. Transported over Tor, it could also be anonymous.

The Tor Project, an anonymizing overlay network. Although better-known than the other projects described in this post, Tor remains a fruitful project to work on and there is plenty of work left to do. In particular, the use of Tor hidden services lags behind the use of Tor on the client side for many reasons, including performance and the need for more server infrastructure. And to help defeat censorship systems, there is always a need for more people run Tor Bridge Relays.

BitCoin, a decentralized internet currency. Digital cash systems, usually based on cryptographic “proof of work” schemes, have been around since 1990. Some digital cash systems are anonymous or pseudonymous (using e.g. Chaum’s blind signatures), but not all are. Historically, digital cash systems have not succeeded; BitCoin is a new attempt that may be promising. You can download and run the code now, and you can indeed buy things with BitCoins.

It may be that some or all of these projects do not succeed, or succeed only partially. That is to be expected — decentralizing and hardening the internet infrastructure and applications against censorship is an ongoing research and development project. The only way to progress is gradually and with effort, but the payoff could be huge.

          Comment on How Consensus Algorithms Solve Issues with Bitcoin's Proof of Work by replique datejust rolex        
<strong>replique datejust rolex</strong> Hi there! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My weblog looks weird when browsing from my iphone 4. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to correct this problem. If you have…
          à¸™à¸±à¸à¸§à¸´à¸ˆà¸±à¸¢à¸­à¸­à¸à¹à¸šà¸šà¸£à¸°à¸šà¸š blockchain เผื่ออนาคต กรณีคอมพิวเตอร์ควอนตัมขุดเหมืองได้เร็วเกิน        

ที่ผ่านมา วงการ cryptocurrency และ blockchain ได้รับความนิยมล้นหลาม ส่งผลให้ความต้องการการ์ดจอเพื่อเอาไปขุดเหมืองเพิ่มสูงขึ้น และเริ่มมีข่าวลือเกี่ยวกับการดัดแปลงการ์ดจอเพื่อใช้ขุดเหมืองโดยเฉพาะ ล่าสุดก็เริ่มมีบางคนปิ๊งไอเดียว่า แล้วถ้าเอาคอมพิวเตอร์ควอนตัมไปขุดเหมืองแทนล่ะ จะขุดเร็วขนาดไหน

คำตอบคือ ขุดเร็วกว่าการ์ดจอแน่ๆ แต่ “มันอาจจะเร็วเกินไปจนไปทำลายระบบ blockchain” ได้เลยทีเดียว

นอกจากนี้ การมาของคอมพิวเตอร์ควอนตัมจะทำให้ระบบ blockchain ไม่สามารถใช้งานต่อไปได้ เพราะมันสามารถทำลายกลไกการเข้ารหัสและรักษาความปลอดภัยของข้อมูลในระบบได้อีกด้วย

จากประเด็นข้างต้น ก็เลยมีกลุ่มนักวิจัยชาวรัสเซียนำโดย Enter Evgeny Kiktenko แห่ง Russian Quantum Center กรุง Moscow คิดเผื่อเอาไว้ว่า ถ้าคอมพิวเตอร์ควอนตัมมาถึง เราจะทำยังไงดีเพื่อที่จะยังคงรักษาระบบ blockchain ให้สามารถใช้งานต่อไปได้ ผลลัพธ์ที่ได้ก็คือเปเปอร์ที่ถูกตีพิมพ์ใน arXiv ครับ

alt="Cryptocurrency"ที่มาภาพ - Pexels

รากฐานสำคัญที่ทำให้ระบบ blockchain สามารถดำเนินการได้นั้นคือกระบวนการแฮชเพื่อตรวจสอบความถูกต้องของ transaction ที่เกิดขึ้นในแต่ละบล็อก รวมถึงใช้เป็น proof of work ของการสร้างบล็อกใหม่ และลายเซ็นดิจิทัลเพื่อยืนยันความเป็นเจ้าของบัญชี ซึ่งการทำลายเซ็นดิจิทัลส่วนมากก็มีพื้นฐานมาจากการเข้ารหัสด้วยอัลกอริทึม ECDSA หรือการเข้ารหัส RSA

แต่ถ้าสมมติมีใครสักคนสร้างคอมพิวเตอร์ควอนตัมขึ้นมาได้แล้วละก็ กระบวนการเข้ารหัสข้างต้นจะไม่สามารถใช้งานได้อีกต่อไป ผลกระทบที่เกิดขึ้นคือ ผู้ไม่ประสงค์ดีจะสามารถปลอมแปลงบัญชีของเหยื่อในระบบได้

ผลกระทบอีกอย่างหนึ่งคือคอมพิวเตอร์ควอนตัมมี Grover search algorithm ช่วยลดระยะเวลาในการทำ inverse hash function ด้วย (จากปกติใช้เวลา 1,000,000 รอบในการหาคำตอบ อาจจะเหลือแค่ 1,000 รอบเท่านั้น) ซึ่งจะทำให้ proof of work เสียประสิทธิภาพของมันไป และมีโอกาสเกิดเหตุการณ์ที่เรียกว่า 51% attack ได้ (มีคนเพียงไม่กี่กลุ่มที่สามารถขุดเหมืองหรือประกาศบล็อกใหม่ได้และกลายเป็นผู้ควบคุม transaction หลักของระบบ ซึ่งขัดกับหลักการของ blockchain ที่ระบบต้องกระจายออก ไม่มีใครสามารถเป็นศูนย์กลางได้)

อันที่จริง ทีมนักวิจัยทั่วโลกกำลังพัฒนากระบวนการเข้ารหัสแบบใหม่ที่ทนทานต่อคอมพิวเตอร์ควอนตัม เรียกว่า post-quantum cryptography ซึ่งสามารถเอาไปใช้ทำลายเซ็นดิจิทัลแทนการเข้ารหัสแบบเดิมได้ แต่ ณ ปัจจุบัน กระบวนการเหล่านี้ยังไม่ได้รับการพิสูจน์ว่าสามารถใช้งานได้จริง จึงยังไม่สามารถพึ่งพาได้ร้อยเปอร์เซ็นต์

ข้อเสนอของทีมนักวิจัย คือให้ใช้กระบวนการแลกเปลี่ยนกุญแจเข้ารหัสผ่านการสื่อสารแบบควอนตัมแทน (quantum key distribution หรือ QKD) โดยใช้ประโยชน์จากกลศาสตร์ควอนตัมโดยตรง กระบวนการนี้มีการทดสอบการใช้งานที่ระยะทางต่างๆ แล้ว คุณสมบัติหลักๆ ของการแลกเปลี่ยนกุญแจผ่านช่องทางควอนตัมคือ

  • ผู้ส่งสาร/รับสารสามารถตรวจสอบได้ว่ามีใครพยายามเข้าถึงข้อมูลคิวบิตหรือไม่ เป็นผลมาจากการที่ผู้ไม่ประสงค์ดีพยายามดักฟังด้วยการใช้เครื่องมืออ่านข้อมูลคิวบิตผิดแบบ ทำให้สถานะของมันเพี้ยนจนผู้รับสารอ่านค่าจากคิวบิตเพี้ยนไปด้วย
  • คิวบิตไม่สามารถคัดลอกตัวเองซ้ำได้ (no-cloning theorem) นั่นทำให้ผู้ไม่ประสงค์ดีไม่สามารถคัดลอกข้อมูลสถานะในคิวบิตเพื่อสำรองได้เลย

คลิปนี้ผมตั้งใจจะเอามาให้เห็นภาพคร่าวๆ ว่ากระบวนการ QKD สามารถตรวจพบ eavesdropper ได้อย่างไร ไม่ได้อธิบายขั้นตอนเชิงลึกของมัน ผู้ที่สนใจอยากจะศึกษาเพิ่ม ผมแนะนำให้เริ่มที่โปรโตคอล BB84 ครับ (ที่มา - Centre of Quantum Technologies มหาวิทยาลัย NUS)

ในการออกแบบระบบ blockchain นั้น จะกำหนดให้ทุกโหนดมีช่องทางการสื่อสาร 2 ช่อง คือ ช่องทางการสื่อสารปกติซึ่งใช้ในการส่งผ่านข้อมูล และช่องทางการสื่อสารควอนตัมซึ่งจะใช้เฉพาะตอนแลกเปลี่ยนกุญแจเข้ารหัส (เป็นการออกแบบทั่วๆ ไปของกระบวนการ QKD อยู่แล้ว)

สำหรับการสร้างบล็อก ทีมวิจัยเลือกใช้โปรโตคอล “broadcast” จากเปเปอร์ของ Shostak, Lamport, และ Pease มาใช้งาน (กำลังภายในผมหมด ไม่สามารถอธิบายมากกว่านี้ได้ แต่หากสนใจจริงๆ ให้อ่านในภาคผนวกของเปเปอร์) โปรโตคอลนี้รับประกันได้ว่าจะทำให้ระบบ blockchain ยังคงสามารถทำงานต่อไปได้ หากมีผู้ไม่ประสงค์ดีร่วมมือกันน้อยกว่า 1 ใน 3 ของผู้ใช้งานในระบบ

ทีมวิจัยยังเสนออีกว่า ควรจะเพิ่มความยาวแฮชของการเข้ารหัสบล็อก เพื่อป้องกันกรณีที่มีการใช้คอมพิวเตอร์ควอนตัมเพื่อปลอมแปลงข้อมูล transaction ภายในระบบด้วย

alt="Test on quantum blockchain"

ที่มาภาพ - เปเปอร์ตีพิมพ์ใน arXiv

ทีมวิจัยทำการทดสอบระบบ blockchain ใหม่ โดยกำหนดให้มีโหนดใช้งานในระบบ 4 โหนด ได้แก่ A, B, C, D และให้โหนด D พยายามโอนเงินเข้าบัญชีที่เหลือพร้อมๆ กัน เพื่อให้เกิดสถานการณ์ double spending ผลคือ transaction ดังกล่าวถูกปฏิเสธ ไม่ได้รับการบันทึกในเวลาต่อมา (สำหรับคนที่สงสัย คอมพิวเตอร์ที่ทางทีมใช้มาจาก ID Quantique ครับ)

กระบวนการเหล่านี้ยังมีจุดอ่อนตรงที่ต้องมีผู้ไม่ประสงค์ดีร่วมมือกันน้อยกว่า 1 ใน 3 ของผู้ใช้งาน ระบบจึงจะมีเสถียรภาพได้ แต่อย่างน้อย นี่ก็เป็นการแสดงให้เห็นถึงผลกระทบที่เกิดขึ้นต่อระบบ blockchain หากคอมพิวเตอร์ควอนตัมเริ่มใช้งานได้จริง ซึ่งคงจะไม่ใช่เร็วๆ นี้แน่

แต่หากมันเกิดขึ้นจริง สิ่งที่น่ากลัวพอๆ กัน คือข้อมูลส่วนตัวของทุกคนจะไม่ปลอดภัยในทันทีหากยังใช้กระบวนการเข้ารหัสแบบเดิมๆ

ที่มา - MIT Technology Review, เปเปอร์ตีพิมพ์ใน arXiv

          gwern on Muehlhauser-Goertzel Dialogue, Part 1        

moshez's first argument sounds like it's the same thing as my point about it not being optimal for a utility-maximizer, in considerably different terms.

His second hyperbolic argument seems to me to be wrong or irrelevant: I would argue that people are in practice extremely capable of engaging in hyperbolic discounting with regard to the best and most absorbing artworks while over-consuming 'junk food' art (and this actually forms part of my essay arguing that new art should not be subsidized).

Maybe a counterargument could be made involving omega or super-omega promising more compression than any artificial pseudo-random generator...

I don't really follow. Is this Omega as in the predictor, or Omega as in Chaitin's Omega? The latter doesn't allow any compressor any progress beyond the first few bits due to resource constraints, and if bits of Chaitin's Omega are doled out, they will have to be at least as cheap to crack as brute-force running the equivalent Turing machine or else the agent will prefer the brute-forcing and ignore the Omega-bait. So the agent will do no worse than before and possibly better (eg. if the bits are offered as-is with no tricky traps or proof of work-style schemes).

          5 reasons Why I am economic Bitcoin Maximalist        

@BernardLunn wrote:

5 reasons Why I am economic Bitcoin Maximalist
Not a moral Bitcoin Maximalist. I don't say buying Bitcoin is any better for the world. Just that Bitcoin will be better than Altcoins as an investment. I said investment, meaning over the long term (plenty of short term trading opportunities in Altcoins)

One. Brand and network effects. Step outside the cryptoverse for a moment. Have any trouble explaining Bitcoin to a newby? Try Ethereum. Try hundreds of Altcoins. Building a crypto product/service? Building for Bitcoin is a no-brainer. Which Altcoin do you invest your R&D budget into?

Two. Not making any more of it. People fed up with money printing like land, gold...and Bitcoin. A big newbie question, but how can we believe "they" won't make more Bitcoin? Now ask that question of every Altcoin.

Three. Copy that. Sidechains will allow entrepreneurs to copy any feature of a cool Altcoin. Like Smart Contracts? Use Rootstock. Altcoins as a sandbox for experiments are a "good thing". As a donation to the community that is cool, as an investment thesis less so.

Four. Lightning Network. Sure we will also have Raiden on Ethereum. Raiden as an Enterprise IT tool is great, but that is very different from a true alternative currency for mainstream use; for that, see 1.

Five. Flight to safety from both directions. Coming from Fiat, Bitcoin is an Anti Fragile crash protection bet. Coming from Altcoins, Bitcoin is safe haven while still believing in Crypto. If you made millions in an ICO, where do you put your stash? No, really.

Ethereum is a wonderful technology innovation. It will be used by big corporations, but so what? If Proof of Stake really works, Ethereum could become a true public alternative currency because Proof Of Work is expensive. But that is like saying if we can easily transport solar energy we can get off fossil fuels - easier said than done. Casper in Etherum is still in development. Watch this space, this is a wild card.

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          Summary of bitcoin and its underlying technology-blockchain, by Henry Zhang, Impact Investing Intern. University of Toronto.         

Everyone’s probably heard of “bitcoin,” but many only have the vaguest idea about it and little understand the underlying technology. Even fewer realize the true impact this technology may have on the future.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency. A cryptocurrency is a digital program or asset designed to work like currency. It seeks to have the following properties: a store of value, a unit of account, and a medium of exchange  Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency of the seven hundred out there. Other major cryptocurrencies are Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin.

Cryptocurrencies work via a system of paired-public, private keys - randomly generated numbers. Each user in the cryptocurrency network has a unique pair of public and private keys. The public key is a string of numbers available to everybody on the network. They are used for encryption. The private key is only available to an individual. It is used for decryption of the paired public key. The bitcoin transfer mechanism works as in the following example: user A wants to give user B 100 bitcoins. Those 100 bitcoins initially have user A’s public key “tagged on” to it, indicating that they belong to user A. Through the transfer command, User B’s public key replaces user A’s public key. (note: every coin in the system is tagged with a user’s public key, since every coin is owned by someone. The actual transfer is validated by user A’s private key and signature. All user B has to do is decrypt the code, using his/her own private key, to receive the bitcoins.


Bitcoin, along with all other cryptocurrencies, rely on an innovative technology known as blockchain. While blockchain is an application of TCP/IP internet technology, it has the potential to be as big as the internet itself.

To understand blockchain and truly appreciate its potential, let’s first talk about the double spending problem with digital currency. With physical money, if you want to spend a hundred dollars but only have fifty, unless you want to go to jail (rob a bank or a person, etc.), you cannot create fifty dollars out of thin air. Only a central bank has the right to create money. This is how you are held accountable-when you only have fifty dollars in physical money, the max you can spend is fifty dollars and not a penny more.

But digital money you can literally create out of thin air, because no one holds you accountable. The double spending problem is precisely what blockchain prevents, and does so without the need for a central authority.

A blockchain is a constantly updated, complete and full record of transactions, it is, by essence, a full ledger. What’s beautiful about this is that the validity of the transactions is held not by a central authority such as a bank, but instead, by the “consensus” of computer network nodes. A node is a device connected to the block chain network, usually a computer or a terminal. Every node on the blockchain network has a copy of the entire blockchain, or record of transactions. This is the same copy of the blockchain that everybody has.

When a user on the blockchain network tries to modify the blockchain in a way that is fraudulent, his/her request will be denied because his/her copy of the blockchain will not match everybody else’s. In fact, what’s recorded in the blockchain is analogous to words carved onto the stone: it is nearly impossible to change the historical records (further discussion on this topic in the next section). It is this mechanism that means everybody is in charge of the ledger but nobody is in charge of it all at once. This preserves accountability and, in the end, qualifies bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as acceptable money.

Bitcoin Mining

But that is not the whole story to the bitcoin network. The accountability is further enhanced by what are known as bitcoin miners. Think of bitcoin as a gold mine. The way bitcoins are created is no different from the way gold is extracted from the ground - workers mine it.

Fiat currency is government established money that is valid by law. Bitcoin, unlike fiat currency, is not issued by a central authority. No single entity is in charge of creating bitcoins. Instead, individuals have an incentive to “mine” it out of a “pool” of unpredictability. Just like a gold miner’s shovel does not know if it will strike gold with each and every use, a bitcoin miner does not know with certainty that they will receive bitcoins for each and every effort. It is only by the constant application of effort that one can receive coins.

Blockchain mining

Miners are block creators that constantly update the blockchain with new records of transactions.  In order to ensure the validity of the blockchain, miners compete to create what is known as a hash. A hash is the outcome of a block that is being modified using a specific mathematical formula - the hashcash “Proof of Work” function.

Technically speaking, the blockchain isn’t a full layout of all the blocks but a chain of hashes. A hash has some interesting properties. It is easy to go from a block to hash through the formula, but practically impossible the other way around. It is a one way street. This has the benefit of also preserving the historical record of the blockchain, since it is hard to even figure out the records of transactions. Another interesting property of the hash is that it is unique. The slightest change in a block will change the hash completely.

Now in order to create a hash, merely having the block itself is inefficient (the average block takes approximately 10 minutes to create), two additional ingredients are needed: 1.) information regarding the previous hash, and 2.) a computationally complex math problem (Proof of Work function). The former is what keeps everything in sync, and the latter is what keeps supply in control. When a hash is successfully produced and attached to the blockchain, it is “mined”.

Bitcoin Mining (again)

The miner gets a reward of a certain number of bitcoins. The problem is that computers nowadays can easily complete the first two steps: it is estimated that all bitcoins could be mined in ten minutes if it was that simple (the maximum amount of bitcoins that can be mined is 21 million). The complex math problem that needs to be solved prohibits this from happening.

To solve this problem, massive computational power and time is required. This way, the miner’s earns a reward only if he or she is lucky enough to be the first one to complete the next hash. This requires time, special equipment, and electricity. The whole reason for all of this is to make sure the blockchain stays intact, since miners are constantly, unintentionally making sure that no one is committing fraud.

As mentioned before, there is a limit to the number of bitcoins that can be mined (21 million). As more and more people join the mining business, the complexity of the proof of work mathematical problem grows and i becomes harder and harder to solve. Not only is the reward reduced, but there are fewer bitcoins in total to be mined. This is all controlled by an algorithm that was set at the very beginning of the bitcoin blockchain process.

Industry structure and the current situation

Though still in its early stages, blockchain technology is already being applied in different fields- identity and content management, social and browsers etc., beyond cryptocurrency. Currently, block chain has flourished in the following markets directly or indirectly related to cryptocurrencies:
  • Wallet & Money services-these companies primarily develop software to store and secure cryptocurrencies
  • Exchanges & Cryptocurrency Trading-these companies that build exchanges and trading platforms for cryptocurrencies
  • Merchant Services-companies that primarily develop cryptocurrency and blockchain solutions for merchants and sellers
  • Cryptocurrency Mining-companies that build hardware and software that help mining cryptocurrencies
Here are other areas where blockchain has been applied:
  • P2P Market places and P2P lending-Peer-to-Peer market platforms where users can exchange goods directly without an intermediary
  • Enterprise services and Currencies-Companies that primarily develop blockchain operating systems for various enterprise usages
  • Social and Browsers-Companies that primarily build secured web browsers
  • Storage, Security & Regulatory-Storage companies that primarily store data with blockchain-secured technology
My thoughts

I went through the basics of blockchain and it's most widely used and known application: bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Though I feel I’ve dissected the underlying mechanism and principles of the bitcoin blockchain down to a pretty fine level (not completely, more work needs to be done in order to fully understand how the bitcoin blockchain operates), analysis is needed on the risk side of things-such as current and potential problems with the technology, government regulation, and other internal or external weaknesses and threats. Also, the industry and the current market situation need further and finer analysis to answer questions like:
  • who are the dominant players in each market, 
  • what are the potential applications of blockchain besides the ones that have been listed, 
  • what are the market caps of the different cryptocurrencies and blockchain itself. 
Even better would be to include an analysis of the commodity side of bitcoin:
  • what are the factors that are propelling the rapid rise in the price of bitcoin, 
  • what actually effects the price of bitcoin, and 
  • what is the future of bitcoin.
NOTE: To buy a virtual currency, we recommend Coinbase. When you click here and sign up and buy $100 or more of bitcoin, we'll both earn $10 in free bitcoin!

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          Beyond Bitcoin - 5 - Delegates and Forgers        
This weeks episode features Dan Larimer of Invictus Innovations discussing the shift from Proof Of Work to Delegated Proof Of Stake and the thought process behind the change. We go on to discuss pretty much everything else going on in the development of the bitshares platform. It was a great opportunity to tie up all the loose ends I could think of and Dan was happy to oblige.

Then a fellow named Ian with the deepest knowledge of NXT of anyone I've met does pretty much the same thing. We began with Transparent forging and the scope of the interview just widened from there to cover the value of Javascript as a language, some of the frankly astonishing capabilities being developed in the NXT ecosystem and even NEM, a fork of NXT with aspirations of its own!

Music provided by Csus. Check them out on Soundcloud.
Content provided by Dan Larimer -, and Ian -
The recording of the Bellbird courtesy of Department of Conservation -
Any questions or comments? Email
Check out for more material and recordings of developer hangouts
          Comment on Bitcoincerns by Russell Stuart        
> SHA2 is, sure; but crypto is hard because it’s not just a matter of finding secure primitives — exactly how they’re put together and used in the real world matters, and is usually done badly. For what it is worth, bitcoin uses remarkably little crypto. It doesn't encrypt anything. It uses digital signatures for their intended purpose - signing a transaction to you can prove only you could have created it. And it for the most part it uses hashes purely as compression functions - it create a small bag of bits that can uniquely identify a bigger bags of bits so they don't task too much space to store in the block chain. The only "novel" use of SHA is in the proof of work, which isn't novel to bitcoin. The magic of bitcoin is in how it forces a group of competing miners to rapidly come to a consensus. Once you have wrapped your head around how that works (and in particular what causes the miners to settle on the same set of rules) you understand the core underpinnings of bitcoin. It has very little to do with crypto. As one the blog posts you link to point out, it so simple people now call it obvious and wonder why it took so long to come up with it. There many outright bugs in the beginning, but they were fixed when fixing them was easy. The current bug that is attracting a lot of attention is the transaction malleability "bugs". The word bugs (there was multiple all causing the same issue) is in inverted commas because it doesn't effect the core bitcoin protocol (multiple different looking but otherwise identical transactions are double spends, which it is amply protected against), but makes tracking your transaction in the block chain harder than it need be. And yes there are probably more bugs, but unlike Chaum's protocol there isn't much in the way of crypto magic so they are unlikely to be in the crypto. > I wouldn’t nominate him as the creator. This describes the core idea: It's the first paper from anyone that describe it. Notice that it references something he wrote in 1999. He had been playing with these ideas for a long time. > he seems to view it as related work, but not something he’s responsible for. Counter quote from : "Bitcoin, an implementation of the bit gold idea (and another example of where the order of events is important), continues to be popular." > I’d put him as smart, super-interesting academic type. Yes, you were right the first time.
          Comment on Bitcoincerns by aj        
Hmm, I need to actually review the bitcoin protocol to really comment. I'd distinguish "transformative" work, like signing/encrypting something that actually creates information that's used later, from "proof of work" that just shows you've done something difficult to ensure scarcity, like move rocks from from here to there, then back again. If the bitcoin stuff were /just/ doing the latter (in the same way that hashcash did), then the blockchain wouldn't actually be safe against forking. AFAICS, the blockchain is already safe against making the algorithms cheaper/faster, which hashcash wasn't. Having the hashing algorithm both secure the block chain and generate independently useful results as a side-effect >> I’m surprised it’s held up long enough to get to where bitcoin already is, frankly. > Really? The banks have used the same crypto for years now. It has been a juicy target long before bitcoin came along. SHA2 is, sure; but crypto is hard because it's not just a matter of finding secure primitives -- exactly how they're put together and used in the real world matters, and is usually done badly. > That is Nick Szabo. He is not a mathematician, a private startup of some sort, an intelligence agency, or a criminal outfit. He is a Law Professor at George Washington University. (Aside: I wonder how that fits into your speculations on bitcoin avoiding regulation.) Based on the trailing comment in he seems to view it as related work, but not something he's responsible for. Unless he is Satoshi, I wouldn't nominate him as the creator. In any event, looking at his blog, I'd put him as smart, super-interesting academic type. If he did the coding and the improvements from bitgold to bitcoin, add super-smart. seems about right as to why I'd count Satoshi as the creator of bitcoin, rather than anyone who'd done previous work. Beyond that, there's something very impressive about having not only made design decisions that work technically, but that are appealing enough to actually put into use. (Actually, going by "who benefits", a tax collection agency is another possible contender for the creator of bitcoin -- having a public ledger of all transactions available could potentially enhance tax fraud investigations substantially. I don't find that plausible because I can't imagine any tax agencies actually having an R&D group capable of making bitcoin, or letting them have the time to develop it. If it happened, they could have been leaned on by law-enforcement types to not claim credit, in order to allow some sting operations against criminal organisations, who might be a bit more suspicious of a cryptocurrency from a tax office, than an anonymous hacker, which would explain the pseudonym, the lack of regulatory problems, and why Satoshi's bitcoins haven't been spent)
          (USA-TN-Chattanooga) Military Mechanic - Automotive Service Technician        
Job Responsibilities: The JLR Veterans Careers Program is designed to promote the hiring of qualified United States Military Veterans, Transitioning Military Service Members, and currently serving National Guard and Reserve Component Members in good standing at participating Jaguar Land Rover Retailers throughout the nation. Selection for the program is highly competitive in keeping with the tradition of professionalism found in both the Armed Forces and the Jaguar and Land Rover brands. The primary goal of this initiative is to recruit and train former military maintenance and repair technicians and mechanics to become brand-certified Jaguar or Land Rover Automotive Service Technicians. Veteran candidates must meet the requisite qualifications, experience and capability requirements, and be willing to attend a three-week long in-resident instruction and certification course upon hiring. Hired Veterans must further be willing to make a long-term commitment to their respective Jaguar Land Rover Retailer Employer. The JLR Automotive Service Technician core job description (After formal training & OJT): * Performing assigned work as outlined on repair orders with efficiency and accuracy, in accordance with dealership and factory standards. * Diagnosing the cause of malfunctions and performing repairs, if authorized by Service Consultants (for customers). * Coordinating with the Parts Department to ensure availability of parts. * Saving and tagging parts if under warranty or if requested by Service Consultants (for customers). * Examining the vehicle to determine if additional safety or service work is required. * Notifying Service Consultants if additional work is needed or if repairs/work cannot be completed within the time promised. * Documenting work performed as directed by Service Consultants. * Road testing vehicles to ensure quality of repair and ensuring vehicles remain clean. * Keeping abreast of factory technical bulletins and attending factory-sponsored training classes. * Keeping the shop area neat and clean and remaining accountable for all tools used. * Understanding and complying with federal, state and local regulations, such as safety requirements, hazardous waste disposal, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other policies, procedures and programs as required. * Wear appropriate PPE, to include safety glasses. Maintaining safety awareness at all times. * The Service Technician will be required to work closely with others or independently, if needed. * Dealership uniforms are required. Job Qualifications: Qualifications, Experience and Capability Requirements: * An Honorable Discharge from the United States Military and the ability to provide proof of service and discharge. * Valid driver's license and a clear driving record * Ability to pass the following pre-employment screening requirements ( drug screening, credit score, Motor Vehicle record report and a background investigation) * Formal military schooling in a technical field such as mechanical, power generation, aviation maintenance, electrical, electronics, hydraulic systems, or other parallel technical specialized skills. Must be able to provide proof of technical training and Job Designation. * In the absence of formal military schooling in a technical field, the candidate must provide proof of successful completion of one year or more of full-time formal Vocational Technical Automotive Training in a private institution completed within the past five years. Transcripts are required. * Completion of at least three years working in the specific technical field of study at the unit, organizational, ship, base, installation or direct support maintenance level (and maintained a high level of experience within the past 3). Must be able to provide proof of work experience and Job Designation. * Manual dexterity in both hands and the ability to manipulate small objects. * Must be able to: * Operate power and hand tools and other types of machinery safely. * Drive a manual transmission (for road tests). * Read and comprehend technical instruction. * Lift up to 50 pounds unassisted and operate hoist and test equipment. * Sit, bend, stoop and/or stand for extended periods (up to 8 hours or more)and kneel, crawl, bend, reach, push, pull and maneuver in a shop environment safely and as needed. * While most shops have a controlled climate and are well ventilated, must be able to work in an environment that may have exposure to: Petroleum products, dust, hot or cold temperatures, loud noises, strong odors (exhaust fumes) and assorted other distractors. * Good communication skills and the ability to work with the public. * Must be willing to complete mandated online training, as assigned during initial interview and screening process. * Must agree to sign a third-party release for the purpose of sharing all candidate application and screening information with Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC (JLRNA) and/or its affiliated Retailers. * Must be willing to accept a minimum 12 month employment obligation upon hiring. For additional information Contact: **Steve Bledsoe** Technical Recruiter JLRNA Veterans Careers Program **CALIBRE** **T:** 256.217.1676 **C:** 256.529.7353 Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC Apply online Other Job Information (if applicable): *Job Code:* JLR - CHATTANOOGA754 *Retailer:* Land Rover Chattanooga *City:* JLR - Chattanooga *State:* Tennessee