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People seem to have this idea that everyone working on proof-of-work coins is some kind of cartoon villain whose life work it is to ruin the environment.

Even if you know nothing about blockchain, the whole mental model of a "cult of planet destroyers" just makes no sense.

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And if you know about Ethereum, and the fact that they've been TRYING to move to a non-proof-of-work consensus algorithm for like the past 3 years, it makes even less sense.

Then every once in a while, someone comes along and says "I solved it, 100% green blockchain, no mining".

And when you hear that, there's only one of three things that can be happening:

1. The Ethereum people are too dumb to copy it. (wrong)

...

2. The Ethereum people have some grudge against the idea of that technology. (Yuh, okay)

3. It doesn't work.

> Whadayamean it doesn't work, of course it works, it's there, working.

Cryptocurrency is like cryptography, it always works, until it doesn't.

Don't get me wrong, PoS and DPoS and such are important, and studying them is necessary, but lets be honest here: At this point they're the "home made cryptography" of blockchains.

So invent, try, test, attack, but don't trust, and DON'T lead other people to trust.

@cjd Honestly I think most people just start from the conclusion that they're evil and work backward from there, because money. If it weren't for PoW people would just find another thing to point to as "proof" that they're evil.

@freakazoid @cjd Yeah I agree with this. Before the environmental argument (I've been associating myself with #Bitcoin since 2012) it was mostly drugs. Sometimes money laundering.
I feel that it's mostly people holding a grudge because some people got rich by buying Bitcoin. And they didn't. And they feel that it's not fair.
I can't blame them. It's kinda unfair. But it's probably as fair as it could have gone. Way more fair than any shitcoin.

@stevenroose @cjd Bitcoin isn't the source of any unfairness. It's not like its properties were kept secret from anyone. Anyone could look at it and make a decision for themselves. I can't say I feel bad that people who demonize the entire field of economics failed to understand enough about economics to realize that Bitcoin had potential.

@stevenroose @cjd Heck, *I* knew only just enough about economics to misunderstand Bitcoin and think it would go nowhere, with the result that I wrote its very first obituary, at least according to 99bitcoins.com. But then I also knew enough that I was able to be convinced by someone who knew more than me. Though I still didn't dump a bunch of money into it then, because then I thought it was going to get outlawed or regulated out of existence.

@stevenroose @cjd At that point my problem was that I wasn't nearly cynical enough about how much finance and regulators were in bed with one another. Or perhaps I overestimated how much the government would perceive it as a threat to its ability to steal from the poor and middle class through inflation. Of course, that may still come to pass if Bitcoin becomes way more accessible. Which of course is exactly what the regulations seek to prevent.

@freakazoid @stevenroose
There's a conspiracy theory that the regulators were so mad about being effectively bent over a barrel in 2008 that they decided they were going to let bitcoin pass just to mess with the bankers.

@cjd @stevenroose To believe that you'd have to believe that the regulators and the banks are somehow on opposite sides, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.

@freakazoid @stevenroose
My mental model is essentially a multi-polar tug of war with alliances in businesses and governmental departments coming and going like the changes in the wind...

@cjd @stevenroose Sounds about right. Old money will fight one another only when they aren't too busy uniting against their common enemy: everyone else.

@stevenroose @cjd Keep Bitcoin as an instrument for the rich, and the regulators will ignore it. But if the poor and middle class start using it heavily, you can be darned sure they'll do everything in their power to stop it.

But even as an instrument for the rich the problem isn't Bitcoin but the regulators who ensure it's only accessible to the rich.

@stevenroose @freakazoid
The suffering that comes from suboptimal allocation of resources is a serious problem, and one I wish the crypto community would
take a bit more seriously.

But as you say, the grapes one cannot reach are the sour ones.

That said, I see the dynamic just as much in the everything-that-is-not-bitcoin-is-a-scam maximalists.

@cjd @stevenroose This is a problem across all of libertarianism. On the one hand libertarians acknowledge that the current system is suboptimal, but on the other hand they fail to see how the disparities created by the current system can be exacerbated by things that appear, in isolation, to be incremental increases in liberty.

This is something I've been arguing for a long time without much success.

@cjd @stevenroose Any American with a bank account can open a Coinbase account, but the thing that makes Bitcoin inaccessible to people without a lot of wealth is its volatility. The same thing makes stocks or any other investment instrument with any kind of yield inaccessible. And as far as I can tell the root cause of that problem is our artificially low interest rates, which we keep from causing inflation by splitting the economy into 2 tiers and paying the banks not to lend.

@theruran @cjd @stevenroose I wonder how and when they obtained the private key? Was there an address statically encoded in the ransomware that the FBI managed to get the private key for, did they get it from a computer they seized later, or did they have malware on one or more of the suspects' machines?

This doesn't seem like cause for concern beyond the already-known caveats of using cryptocurrency. A hardware wallet with a passphrase would have prevented the problem.

@freakazoid @cjd @stevenroose right. the article suggests it was "good old-fashioned police work." the FBI won't say exactly how they did it. basically they hired Cryptalysis and Elliptic to analyze it backwards and forwards from Colonial Pipeline's transaction, and traced it to 210 wallets. seems the criminals weren't smart enough to keep their private keys safe.

that seems to be a big dent in the common legislator's argument for encryption backdoors.

@theruran @cjd @stevenroose No cryptanalysis is required to trace Bitcoin transactions, because each one has to specify the output(s) it's spending and the address(es) to spend to. It's trivial to implement in software, and there are web services that do it for you.

@freakazoid @cjd @stevenroose yes, just like some high-powered cryptanalysis was not needed to decrypt the San Bernandino shooter's iPhone.

@theruran @cjd @stevenroose Right. Apple have little incentive to *actually* protect their hardware from governments, just to be seen to be doing their best to protect it. So it'll always be a cat and mouse game where the biggest mice just get batted around and released each time, while the smaller mice get eaten because they were dumb enough to follow the larger mouse.

@theruran @cjd @stevenroose The thing they remain very quiet about is that they cannot do the same thing with Monero. But it's not like everyone involved with crypto doesn't already know that. Monero's a lot less liquid at the moment, but if governments continue to show success using Bitcoin's lack of privacy to seize funds and arrest people, I'm guessing Monero will start getting a lot more traction.

@freakazoid @cjd @stevenroose the IRS bounty posted suggested they already have a way of deanonymizing Monero transactions, and the theoretical attacks were already published. They are looking for an industrialized implementation of it.

@theruran @freakazoid @stevenroose
Sounds like what they actually had was a paper on the security properties of XMR and they were interpreting "most effective attack" to mean "it's broken"

@cjd @freakazoid @stevenroose Monero hard-forks every 6 months now anyway. and they are actively researching and funding that research to improve the privacy. there was a theoretical attack on ring signatures if the user has configured a custom ring size. there may be others I can't remember. they are moving to a different cryptosystem from ring signatures, but I can't recall right now.

@theruran @cjd @stevenroose This, more than Monero's current privacy properties, is the thing I like best about Monero. The development process.

@theruran @cjd @stevenroose Also the fact that the developers even care about privacy. And ASIC-resistance.

@theruran @cjd @stevenroose The attacks I can find are probabilistic in nature and use properties of the implementations themselves. While they might be enough to get a warrant, especially in addition to other circumstantial evidence, they probably won't be usable for getting a conviction unless they are able to find other evidence. But, of course, opsec is hard. People should always use any cryptocurrency over Tor, of course. And don't trust the cryptocurrency to protect you.

@theruran @cjd @stevenroose Any technology is just a tool, and no matter what you do you can always slip up. So you always need multiple levels of security.

Imagine, for example, that DPR had left a hidden router inside the library and then kept the library and the router itself under surveillance as he worked? The thing that got him nabbed was that he relied too heavily on technology to protect him.

@freakazoid @theruran @stevenroose
Well, thing is they had to track down the actual guys to pwn their computers, which is a whole different thing than tracking txns on a blockchain...

@freakazoid @theruran @cjd Well a simple coinjoin would also have prevented this. Or simply using a non-custodial Bitcoin wallet.

@stevenroose @theruran @cjd Do we know they were using a custodial wallet? I somehow missed that if so.

@cjd @freakazoid @theruran I think that's what I heard. Also they said he was a teenager. He put the money on a custodial wallet or even an exchange. Supposedly the government just subpoena'd the service's server(s) and forced them to send them the money.

Don't trust me on this, I might have been lied to 😅 But it seems plausible to me, how else could they have "hacked" his wallet.

@stevenroose @cjd @theruran Plenty of ways, but I was thinking they might have infiltrated or seized his computer. The way they phrased it made it seem like they already had the key or were otherwise able to obtain it, whereas if it were a custodial wallet I'm guessing they would have just asked them to transfer the funds.

@freakazoid @stevenroose @cjd I think it is a tactic of theirs to confuse the issue and leave it uncertain so that the general public will believe cryptocurrency wallets and encryption schemes can be broken whenever the feds feel like it, in order to weaken the idea in the collective consciousness of the security and usefulness of cryptosystems for general use.

yes, you are right about tainted coins and it is a known issue among Bitcoin developers. the surveillance technology and integration into the commercial space are advanced enough for us to assume this is true. CoinJoins and CoinSwaps would help, but last I checked, most wallet software do not support them. Schnorr signatures would improve privacy and fungibility but they require a hard-fork.

@theruran @freakazoid @cjd Nah, Schnorr signatures are part of taproot and will probably be supported starting mid November this year.

@stevenroose @theruran @cjd As the ransomware folks themselves have pointed out, even if it gets harder to pay (and get paid) ransoms, there are plenty of other ways to monetize access to computer systems. Many of which are much harder to trace than a ransomware payment.

@stevenroose @theruran @cjd I think it probably won't be long before the government establishes a list of "tainted" outputs that aren't allowed to be in the ancestry of certain kinds of transactions. It'll be difficult, but look at how the recent auctions are being handled: they only accept payments from certain wallets so that they get identity information. How long until that's the norm, and Bitcoin ceases to be non-repudiable in any meaningful way?

@stevenroose @theruran @cjd Banks put holds on checks. The government-blessed wallet providers will just do the same thing with any funds deposited from non-blessed wallets. If you happen to have accepted money from someone who used a tumbler, that's just your bad luck. Best case the wallet provider returns your funds, minus a small fee for their trouble, and now you can only dispose of them at a deep discount.

@stevenroose @theruran @cjd And people will accept it because the government will put a limit on how old of outputs they can add to the list.

@freakazoid @stevenroose @theruran
This would only make sense if their goal is to create a chaotic War On Drugs 2.0, not if they want to actually catch criminals.

If they start making rules about which coins can and cannot be spent then there will be a split between "US BTC" and "International BTC" and a laundry market will instantly emerge which makes them unable to do their actual job.

Just watching coins and asking questions is a far superior strategy.

@freakazoid @theruran @cjd CoinJoin, CoinSwap, Lightning, plenty of ways to make coins more fungible.

@cjd Is there some published work out there on why Peercoin, a small change to Bitcoin to make it mostly-PoS-slightly-PoW, has been out for probably longer than Ethereum but never gained any real traction or imitation?

I speculated on it for a while half a decade ago but liquidity was ridiculously low.

@clacke
I'm not following this very closely at all, but I think you'd want to talk to the Ethereum PoS transition team. As a blockchain creator, my answer is that once you stray away from proof-of-work, a lot of assumptions just evaporate and it gets super complicated to re-establish confidence in the security story.

@cjd sorry for nitpick, but it's a lot more than 3 years. Vlad Zamfir assured me in mid 2017 that PoS would be live at the start of 2018. (Remember Casper?). I think a substantial effort went into it in eth land from 2015.

(Doesn't really change your point).

@cjd people think that? o.O
I thought people viewed miners more like a paperclip maximizer that will incidentally destroy earth because it doesn't care, it just needs to make more paperclips

@kotovalexarian
For me, this one is more significant. Thing Professional Protestors don't understand is what cryptocurrency is doing for people who have actual hardship in their lives.

@cjd what is it doing for people with actual hardship?

@kotovalexarian @cjd ... while noting that banking on double the energy consumption does orders of magnitude more transactions.

@clacke @cjd Bitcoin energy consumption doesn't grow as number of transactions grows.

@kotovalexarian
While I know the banking system handles way more transactions, I find this quite interesting. Anyone know other sources to veryfy this gold vs. digital coin comparison?
@cjd

@MrManor @cjd Look at the document at the link. It's not very strict but it describes how the data was obtained.

@kotovalexarian @cjd It's really strange. I think I followed the link yesterday and ended up on a completely different page. Thanks anyway.

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