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Gavin Andresen's commit access to Bitcoin revoked, hacking suspected (twitter.com)
297 points by apsec112 on May 2, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 164 comments



This looks like a political statement, not like a serious security measure. "No sane person would say the things this guy is saying, so he must have been hacked." Like the Soviet Union where political opponents would be declared to be insane to silence them.

What damage are they afraid he will do with commit access? Wouldn't it be better to wait for him to commit so they can see what the "hacker" is trying to accomplish?


> What damage are they afraid he will do with commit access?

A lot of people run Bitcoin Core directly from the github repo without checking the git commit signatures; someone who pushed a backdoored commit to that repo could easily steal funds.


> A lot of people run Bitcoin Core directly from the github repo without checking the git commit signatures; someone who pushed a backdoored commit to that repo could easily steal funds.

No one should be running Bitcoin Core from the repo without checking git commit signatures; not everyone whose account gets hacked will post on a blog rather than pushing underhanded but otherwise normal looking commits to the repo - the 'we can prevent damage by revoking access because we saw a weird looking blog post' is just a laughbly bad excuse for a security practice.


> A lot of people run Bitcoin Core directly from the github repo without checking the git commit signatures

What? Why?


Same reason people do curl | sudo bash


Yeah right, from someone who has been waiting to attack Gavin.


Commit signatures do nothing to verify that his device wasn't hacked, it just verifies that someone got access to his key. Geeze this is just stupidity all the way down.


In addition to having the access keys to github, it also requires access to the secret in the pgp key which gives you identity proof. Ideally that's password protected too.

It's defense in depth.


That password is potentially ten lines down in the keylogger report. Depth isn't as deep as you think.


When you posted your tweet, what were you talking about? Why did you say his repo access had been altered?


Like someone wouldn't notice it in two second.


If you were actually concerned about someone being compromised why wouldn't you make a new account for Gavin and give him a new password?

This looks like an obvious attempt at furthering your agenda by using a a nonsense excuse to push Gavin out.

EDIT: I see downvotes but not a rebuttal.


How do you make sure the real Gavin gets the account? Why not just wait for things to clear out and then give him access again. And I guess he can still submit pull requests in case he needs to get a change in.


We aren't putting letters into bottles and throwing them into the ocean, they could video conference with each other easily.

This is all a facade from people who think everyone is dumb enough to believe them. Its like a child being caught with chocolate all over their face saying they didn't steal a candy bar.


Tinfoil hat time:

Maybe Peter Todd is the one that hacked into Gavin's blog. They've had an ongoing public disagreement for some time and Peter could benefit from making Gavin look bad.


It's too late to edit this comment but new information leads to yet another alternative explanation: Gavin (and others) actually did witness Craig sign a message with one of Satoshi's private keys, and "verify" it on a computer controlled by Craig. Shenanigans were involved that made the phony signature appear to verify. Gavin (and others) were deceived.



So either:

1. Craig actually is Satoshi but is withholding the only real proof anyone cares about for some unknown reason

2. Craig is a fraud and Gavin was tricked

3. There's some other strange situation going on (Gavin is in on it? Gavin is being coerced? Gavin's reddit account was also hacked?)

EDIT: I'm inclined to believe #2. If Craig were Satoshi he wouldn't need a coordinated "Official Announcement" with major publications and a long hand-wavy blog post describing how to verify a signature. He could just sign the message "Craig Steven Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto, creator of Bitcoin" using a known Satoshi Bitcoin address' private key and post it anywhere. The community will know what to do. This is literally the only proof any who knows more than a little about Bitcoin will accept.


It's possible that the "brand new laptop" Gavin received wasn't brand new at all and was opened, flashed, and resealed, or perhaps Craig has obtained a fake trusted certificate for electrum.org and MITM'd the connection on his home/work wifi.


The explanations for how Craig Wright could have deceived so many credible people are getting incredibly complicated. If in the end Craig managed to dup four major news media outlets, Bitcoin devs, Matonis, and apparently other members of the so-called "Satoshi Team," then fuck, he deserves the win - maybe not credit for having invented Bitcoin, but for being such a brilliant conman!

The easily-debunked cryptographic proof offered up so far has in fact supported suspicions that he is a conman. If Craig Wright turns out not to be Satoshi, and Gavin was not hacked or coerced, then I feel sad for Gavin Andresen's reputation, as well as Bitcoin's as a whole.

I'll also be relieved if he is a conman, because anything else would be sorely disappointing...


Simple stage magic was used by psychics to deceive professional scientists under experimental conditions at Stanford for years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parapsychology_research_at_SRI

It is unreasonable to assume that someone who is not an expert in stage magic can detect/defeat basic deception techniques. I don't know about this particular case but I see no reason to rule out deception, anyone can be fooled especially if they are specifically targeted.


I've been victim to a fraud a couple of years ago, and in retrospect it's amazing how gullible I was -- conning is so easy because we tend to trust people by default. And in this case, all the people who fell for the fraud probably really wanted this to be true, which probably affected their judgement.


Thank you. I think people misunderestimate how easy it is to get conned, especially when the conman is preying directly on you.


Social engineering works. This is why being conned feels like such a violation. People think it can't happen to them. Just like advertising only works on those other dumb sheeple.

EDIT> Also, re: media. If you've ever given an interview and then been surprised at what was actually written / reported, this wouldn't surprise you. In this case, the media is relying heavily on the tech experts. It's only necessary to con the techies.


That's the first thing I thought of. The "clean" laptop has to come from the verifying party, not from the party being verified.


You would think that Satoshi, who has been in hiding for so long, would have a fully planned reveal. He/she has had a long time to plan. As long as Satoshi is not outed unintentionally, I would think he/she would have a long list of lawyers and accountants. Roughly 1 million btc could be 400 million in assets. That's a heck of a lot of capital to be dealing with reporters directly.


So many possibilities really. . .

- Satoshi died somewhere along the line and there will never be a reveal since he didn't pass the keys to someone else.

- Satoshi enlisted Wright to take over for him if/when he would pass away. He did and now Wright is bungling the whole affair

- Wright either knew Satoshi or was with him at the very beginning of BTC. This would explain his possession of very early block chain keys (#9 instead of #0.

- Wright had been working with Satoshi since the beginning, and now Wright (who many have commented is crazy) had a falling out of some sorts and is rushing to take credit as BTC's creator.

- Wright is simply a con man trying to flush Satoshi out by claiming he is BTC creator and then waiting for him to appear. Not sure what the end game would be in this scenario

- Wright is crazy AND a con man and is trying to claim credit as BTC creator for several reasons, many of which are probably motivated by money.

This could go several different ways, but for my money, it seems like Wright was probably around in the early days, and got in right away with a bunch of early keys to earlier block chains. From the outside it looks like his life as a fraud is starting to unravel and catch up with him. I feel like this is the last gasp to try and retain some respectability in the community. He already has a litany of legal problems his facing, and considering very few people believe he is Satoshi, this isn't going to end well for him.


His interview with BBC suggests he was outed against his desires and before he had settled tax questions with the ATO.


Having access to more critical data / keys / and so on, if he really planned to go out, there would be better ways.


Gavin also announced on stage on Consensus 2016 that he hadn't been hacked: https://twitter.com/BTCTN/status/727145824510058496

So, one would expect his commit access to be restored. Unless, of course, if "We think he was hacked" was actually an excuse rather than a reason.


Where did the "hacking" claim ever start from? It looks like some guy linked to a YC comment.


Apparently the "verification" shell script that Craig supplied had a deliberate typo which made signature check step worthless: https://www.reddit.com/r/btc/comments/4hfyyo/gavin_can_you_p...


What this means is still unclear but it's not looking good for Craig Wright being Satoshi.


Bitcoin is just a soap opera that keeps on giving... it's fantastic how much credibility something can keep loosing and loosing.


Why laugh at someone's failure? They're trying to pull off a very different power structure. It has political issues they clearly haven't worked out, but how much time in the grand scheme have they had to do so compared to the standard ones?


It's always harder to do something than to sit around watching the people doing it. So I give you that. This is hard.

However, every time someone has interacted with the Bitcoin community and dealt with the assholes telling them "you just don't get it! this is the new economy!", it makes that someone smile a little bit each time there's bad news.


Yeah I'll give you that.


Well, because, frankly speaking, they're trying to pull off a very different power structure without getting buy-in from everyone involved.

Green U.S. money? At least, at the end of the election cycle, I can cast a vote for someone who will appoint a Fed chair I like. There's some tenuous link from the decision-makers back to me, an American voter.

The bitcoin people? They just said "here it is, oh and also we call all the shots, kthxbye". What if there's some feature of the new power structure I don't like? Where can I seek redress? Ask a bitcoin advocate, and what you get is crickets.

A new power structure should be more inclusive of people's voices, not less.

So, in this case, I welcome the failure.


You can vote for someone that says they'll appoint that Fed chair. And even then the Fed chair could have reason to implement policy that is contrary to your interests.

In fact, the status quo is that your opinion and vote for that person is ignored. I'm reminded of the Princeton/Northwestern study suggested Congress passes laws that run contrary to the will of the people ~90% of the time.

So what's the value in your tenuous link when inputs are sent straight to /dev/null

https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/fi...


With bitcoin, the election cycle is always happening. Every single block miners decide which rules they want to enforce, and which proposals they want to signal support for. You want to support 2 MB blocks? Run Bitcoin Classic, or point your mining software toward a pool that supports it. You want to support segwit? Run Core 0.12.1. Ultimately, the market decides what becomes of bitcoin, not some unaccountable, unelected bureaucrat.

Also, with bitcoin, all interaction is completely voluntary. There are no legal tender laws or taxation propping up the value of the currency.

> So, in this case, I welcome the failure.

I wouldn't hold your breath. Bitcoin has been through many incidents that are far worse than this, and it's only come out stronger for it.


That's not an election. That's not voting.

And you and the other guy are illustrating really well what I mean about the bitcoiner anti-democratic point of view.

Running a piece of software isn't voting, and isn't "power to the people," but you guys get so stuck up on this wordplay about how running the software is the real, authentic "voting" that you really kinda miss the boat there.

So, well done with that.


So what does a real authentic vote look like to you, in a decentralized system?

Who calls for the vote? Who counts them? Who is allowed to vote? Who isn't? Who proposes ideas for a vote?

When the pool of people who understand what Bitcoin is gets totally overwhelmed by people who don't, what keeps really stupid decisions from being made?

When people vote for something that isn't already coded, who is responsible for coding it?


What you are describing is not a democracy, it's a textbook plutocracy.


> At least, at the end of the election cycle, I can cast a vote for someone who will appoint a Fed chair I like.

With Bitcoin, you can "cast your vote" for what software the network is running too; you buy a miner and contribute to a mining pool that agrees with your philosophies. Of course, unlike a federal election (or maybe not...), more capital => more votes.

The core developers really don't have any power beyond that given to them by individual miners and mining investors.


Well, and that is simply not casting a vote. Voting isn't just, as I said elsewhere here recently, "inferring preferences from behavior". It's a regular process, a structured reassessing of power.

Maybe if you said "every year on March 1st, everyone shuts down their client and chooses a new one" and there were several well-maintained clients that had different policy choices encoded into them for people to "vote" with, then we'd be a little closer to a democratic power-in-the-hands-of-the-people kind of thing.

But as it is right now? No, there's no voting, nor democratic power-sharing, in Bitcoin.


What guarantees do you have the president you elect will do what he says? What is your recourse if he doesn't live up to your expectations?

Being able to change one's vote at any time regarding any issue seems preferable to everyone sitting powerless for four years at a time in between scheduled elections.


You and the other bitcoin advocates here are actually doing a really good job illustrating my point.

I'm saying, bitcoin isn't "power to the people," that it is anti-democratic by design, and you and the other guy here are trying to dodge and ignore that with language games about "the market decides" and irrelevant stuff about how politicians lie.

I get it, bitcoin is your chance to be one of the people "in the know" as it were, one of the powerful ones, and you don't want to give that up. Please spare us the rhetoric about how it's for our own good, though.


One of the powerful ones? Hah. What power is that exactly?

All I can do is choose which client to run. You have all the power I do. That anyone does.


"Being able to change one's vote at any time regarding any issue seems preferable to everyone sitting powerless for four years at a time in between scheduled elections"

I'm not even addressing what the OP was telling you, that you don't vote and that the "votes" are all in the hands of a few people.

But, even if everyone was entitled to a vote, being able to change it anytime they like would make a for a very, very poor government system.

I can only imagine, 1st long term project the government had that didn't give you short term profit you would change your vote.

P.S.: Interestingly enough is exactly what is happening in Bitcoin right now: long term sustainability calls for changes to the block size, but short term profit calls for it to remain the same, so the few miners that control the network just go for the short term profit.


fwiw, many people don't agree with the "for sustainability" argument.

Increasing blocksize is actually a negative, because it lets people continue sending low-value transactions that they wouldn't actually pay for. It externalizes their costs to the entire network, making verification harder, etc.

When the required fee makes your current uses of btc unprofitable, either send larger amounts at a time or use a sidechain, etc. The fee is a DoS-prevention mechanism.


> But, even if everyone was entitled to a vote, being able to change it anytime they like would make a for a very, very poor government system.

I don't disagree. But you can hardly call it "undemocratic".


The undemocratic part was not that one. Like I said: "even if everyone was entitled to a vote and to change it whenever they want" and then carried out the argument based on that alternative scenario to bitcoin reality and explained why that would be a bad system.

The reality is that just an handful of people can vote in this system, the ones that control all the mining. All other people are left using a system in which they have no say.

That's a classical textbook Plutocracy and completely un-democratic.


That's really interesting as a libertarian to hear that sort of perspective. It's so reversed from how I see things. To me, you have a vote which has an infinitesimal chance of swaying the election, and then you hope that the candidate you voted for appoints a fed chair you like. Further, you hope that fed chair does a good job, and that their policies are correct. If not, you have to wait four years for to give the same input.

With Bitcoin, you just...don't use Bitcoin. If you're invested at the point somebody does something you don't like, sell off. Presumably the ones on top are heavily invested themselves and will feel a massive sell off in their bottom line.

All that said, the different power structure I was talking about is one where nobody has that kind of power to begin with. That there is somebody at the top at all is a failure, IMO.


> Where can I seek redress? Ask a bitcoin advocate, and what you get is crickets.

No, you've gotten countless answers: "Nowhere."

In the same way you can't reverse a transaction, you can't have a vote. It doesn't work that way.

> A new power structure should be more inclusive of people's voices, not less.

You've had a voice. We've seen your posts about how you're so ignored because nobody is writing a patch to release more coins. It's been heard, but it's a bad idea. If you like that type of currency, use your government's.

> Basically, what bugs me about bitcoin is that legitimate critiques are always brushed off with really absurd replies.

Have you posted any legitimate critiques? I haven't seen any...

> Or the deflationary economics of the system itself, and those aren't good either.

Yeah, that's an example. You don't know the system or the goals so how could you have valid comments, let alone legitimate criticism?


Because the attitude of some of the more hardcore Bitcoin people is a holier than thou, "We're the only ones who REALLY know about money and currency and financial policy. You idiots with fiat money don't know anything!" persecution complex which is really annoying.


The people who lose credibility here are

* The Economist

* BBC

* Gavin Andresen (unless he was hacked)


BBC and Gavin yes, though the tone from the Economist was quite skeptical I think.


Economist did the same thing Wired (Andy Greenberg) did last time Wright made his claims: investigate, find pretty damning evidence of deception, but still spin it to "but he might still not have faked everything". The Satoshi of the Gaps.


"The Gaps"? What does that phrase mean?


A reference to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps, presumably. Finding "evidence" to support your belief in what is still unknown.


From the Wikipedia page in the neighbor comment:

> ...to point out the fallacy of relying on teleological arguments for God's existence. Some use the phrase to refer to a form of the argument from ignorance fallacy.


Well, Gavin Andresen is a bitcoin core dev that according to this very news just got hacked.

It's logical to think that when a core dev of something as sensible as bitcoin get's hacked and you can't trust the code anymore, it takes a really big chunk of credibility from bitcoin.


I can't figure out the news story where Gavin got hacked or his access revoked. This is a giant ouroboros of everything linking in a circle. I'd almost suspect a practical joke of some kind if the major news organizations weren't invovled.


It's not clear if Gavin's Blog, Twitter or commit-access machine was hacked, if at all.

Gavin is one of many core devs, and Bitcoin good enough security procedures to survive a dev's machine being hacked.


I think you mean to say sensitive, not sensible. Sensible means "makes sense".


That's a common mistake, and BTW, in Spanish and French "sensible" is the word for "sensitive" (I infer from the name the parent could be of Spanish-speaking origin)


This is a typical German-English false friend:

  sensible (en) - vernünftig (de)
  sensitive (en) - sensibel (de)


Also in French: sensible (en) - raisonnable (fr) sensitive (en) - sensible (fr)


Yes, I meant "sensitive" thank you. It's that in my mother language "sensível" means "sensitive" in English, hence the mistake.


Why is this thing so popular? An our or two ago there were 7 stories about bitcoin on the frontpage :-/


Because a) it's a seriously fascinating system from a technical standpoint, b) it has immense potential to solve a lot of problems — especially for those in areas with underdeveloped financial systems, and c) a lot of people are heavily invested in its success.

Regardless of whether or not you think it's overhyped, it's a really really cool experiment in economics and cryptography.


Additionally, it's an open-source security-critical product that has a lot of eyes looking at, discussing, and actively attempting to subvert the technology.

For security "nerds", which hn is full of, it's a veritable holy grail of technological security.

Stands to reason that the majority of issues Bitcoin has appears to be human, not technological. Since the technology works so well, bad actors appear to be targeting human vectors of attack- create controversy where there is none, drive wedges between key players, sow dissent among community (a day doesn't go by that r/bitcoin doesn't complain about vote manipulation).

Bitcoin's biggest security threat lies in it's governance, especially if there are subversive elements in its community. BTC leadership has to get their house in order.


> it has immense potential to solve a lot of problems

Very debatable and yet to be proven in any real way. Lots of things have "potential" but bitcoin seems to consistently fail at actually doing anything. Doubtful it will ever solve any problems outside its current scope of use.


Potential, by definition, might go unrealized, yes. That's kind of a tautology.


I think it's clear we're talking about realized potential here, which is why I said it hasn't actually done anything yet. Beyond a few edge cases, it's gotten a lot of attention and hype but solved nothing so far.


In my case I have always liked and followed the Bitcoin scene because everybody in his right mind knew it would turn into a shitshow.

I mean you have the combination of an open source community, libertarians, and a shitload of money. The outcome is pretty obvious.


I like to imagine Krugman and co pacing around their offices wondering why Bitcoin hasn't completely crashed - with the occasional murmur of "deflationary" and "libertarians" and "no it can't be".


Why would Krugman wonder why it did not crash? Bitcoin is a pyramid with an expiration date far in the future and currently everything but deflationary.


Lots of people who spent a lot of cash on bitcoins and now need to bring more people in to raise its value so that they can cash out.


That explains why Steam now accepts bitcoins. Because nobody uses it to actually buy stuff... /s

In The Netherlands, you can order takeaway food at practically any restaurant with bitcoin. Overnight, this was the biggest expansion in the acceptance of Bitcoin to date.

Whatever your opinion is about bitcoin, it absolutely does not reflect the current reality, where Bitcoin is seen more and more as a serious alternative for payments.


They'd probably be more upset about losing credibility.


How does the antics of some developers influence the credibility of a system they are one of many contributors to?

You can claim that Bitcoin is going down the toilet all you like, but by all metrics relevant to its purpose (namely value and popularity) it's doing extremely well.

Perhaps your mistake is that you only notice when something that could be construed as negative happens around Bitcoin. Such things are usually more entertaining than the relatively mundane improvements and victories that occur on a regular basis.


Nowadays it's hard to trust any monetary system with all the hacking, skimming and fraud that takes place.


Really? I don't find it particularly hard.

> all the hacking, skimming and fraud

Sure, I was impacted by that. A while back, I noticed some movie tickets charged to my card in Australia. I called my bank, disputed the charges, they reversed them and sent me a new credit card. Took...maybe 20 minutes of my time? Max?

And from this I'm meant to learn I can't trust the current system? Honest question: Why?


Well, you can be pretty well sure that unless western civilization fails and your money is worthless anyway, that you can trust having your money in USD/EUR in a bank up to a certain amount (100K in the EU, not sure how much in the USA), even if they get hacked, skim and commit fraud. Same can't be said for Bitcoin and we keep being reminded of it.


The 100K is against bank default. If your account is hacked from your side, you might have trouble getting the bank to pay you. It would be on you to prove you were hacked.


In the US at least, the semi-governmental FDIC automatically publicly insures accounts, not banks, up to $250,000.

In addition most banks are privately insured against fraud.

I've dealt with an 8k fraudulent charge on my card before. The bank investigated, sent over a sworn affidavit to sign, and they refunded my money in less than 24 hours.


>refunded my money in less than 24 hours.

I had a $20 error charge on my card and it took a month for the refund. This is with the vendor stating in writing it was their error. I no longer bank there.


This is factually incorrect. If you didn't authorize the transfer, the bank is legally required to make you whole.

This only applies to personal accounts, not business accounts.

There is a reason why scammers work so hard to find someone to "cash checks" or "withdraw funds" or do that kind of nonsense. Electronically stealing funds is easy. Keeping those funds is hard.


> Well, you can be pretty well sure that unless western civilization fails and your money is worthless anyway, that you can trust having your money in USD/EUR in a bank up to a certain amount (100K in the EU, not sure how much in the USA),

Eh. Tell that to the Greeks. And it happened for much less than "civilization failing".


Greeks didn't lose money in the bank. There were temporary losses of ATM availability due to bank runs, but the account protection was maintained. Even in Cyprus the "bail-in" applied to over €150k only.


Maybe you meant Cyprus?


Wouldn't you agree that a multi-billion dollar market cap, millions of daily tx volume, and a pretty decent price of $400, all of which keep growing in the face of so much "credibility losing", counter it rather nicely?

Humans are folly but the technology speaks for itself.


I like how Satoshi is a kind of genius God in some people's eyes. Explaining what he would do in a situation, as though it is written in gospel somewhere.


That's because Bitcoin's value is entirely belief based (you can't do anything useful with a Bitcoin if nobody else believes it has value), so the whole thing is much closer to a religion than anything based on reason and logic.


What kind of currency do you accept for your work? Is it reason and logic based or a fiat "belief based" currency?


I'll take a bite. A currency that is backed by a powerful and stable state.

A state that enforces nearly constant but low inflation; a process by which money has to be invested and flow into an economic system in order to have a shot keeping the same value.

I bought 7BTC in April-May 2011 when they were at 7EUR each, during one of the first press-coverage booms. Private key is currently in a cupboard on my old laptop; And precisely because Bitcoin has not inflation, they're staying there.


"Is it reason and logic based"

What currency is that? Cause it sure isn't bitcoin. Maybe Dogecoin?


This also applies to every other fiat currency like the euro or dollar.


The USD and the Euro are backed by the fact that the government will only accept payment in those currencies. That's why it says "for all debts, public and private."

The strength of a state-sponsored fiat currency is two-fold:

First, the amount of commerce done with the government.

And second, the government's ability to use force to prevent the use of other currencies in the licit domestic market, to stop the free movement of cash, and to detain those that do not comply.

Succinctly, fiat currencies are maintained by tanks and taxes.


Unless the people already accept the value of the official currency, it is not practical for the government to use force to compel people to exchange in a particular currency. If and/or when people lose faith in the dollar, they will trade with other currencies, regardless of the government's position on the matter.

Bitcoin has already proven a boon to Cypriots and Greeks as their countries' economic systems have collapsed and had their deposits placed on lockdown. It has value as a global means of exchange that can't be artificially suppressed.

My personal belief is that the credibility of the dollar will fall through the floor as contemporary social issues like access to health care remain unaddressed. People will need another currency to exchange and bitcoin or another cryptocurrency will be the most ready, the most pertinent.


They don't force anyone to do anything. They just refuse to accept currencies for taxes, other public debts, and government purchases. That's what creates the adopter base and the lock-in.

Bitcoin is a game changer. It is held up by pure faith alone. That makes it more of a commodity than a currency. For example, Gold made good currency simply because of pure faith.

I can't pretend I know I where the blockchain will lead us, but personally I'm fascinated to find out.

(Quick P.S. for any Brits or Aussies, us Yanks referring to the blockchain just means blockchain tech, not specifically the Bitcoin blockchain.)


Honest question (as a Brit): why call out nationality when talking about the blockchain in your PS... Have you noticed the meaning vary outside the US?


Yeah, in some countries "the blockchain" strongly implies Bitcoin itself, whereas in others, particularly the US, "the blockchain" could refer to a blockchain in any setting, e.g. an altcoin.


Interesting, thanks! I've not noticed that myself, but maybe that's because I'm in London and fintech is particularly strong here (I'm guessing fintech folks are more au fait with the difference between blockchain and bitcoin)


The currency can change quickly and the old stuff becomes quite worthless. Ask the Confederates.


They lost their force and power of taxation. It's actually a great example of how fiat currencies work.

No "tanks", no taxes, no currency.


And thus you may say that every Euro using nation effectively gave up sovereignty when they adopted said currency...


I would characterize it as more of a joint sovereignty pact, with all agreeing to accept a currency, and all in a mutual defense organization. It's not a pure federal government, but it's at least a confederacy.

But, to address the elephant in the room, as one can see from recent events divorcing fiscal union from monetary union can have some very detrimental effects.


You said it, we didn't.


Huh, I'd never thought of fiat currencies that way until now. One might say they're backed by your individual liberty (i.e. not paying your taxes with legal tender gets you thrown in jail).


You've reframed the concept in a very interesting way.

Another permutation: It's almost as if a government holds your liberty as collateral to ensure use of their currency domestically.


Zimbabwe had both tanks and taxes, but their currency still went to shit.


There's a limit to the ability of tanks and taxes to stabilize the currency. It provides a backstop but when there's large spending financed by printing money combined with instability and a lack of faith in the government the government can't provide that stability.


So we can narrow it down to the factor that DOES matter - trust. Zimbabwe currency lost its trust, and no amount of tanks or taxes would actually gain it back. That's what really backs a currency.


> The USD and the Euro are backed by the fact that the government will only accept payment in those currencies.

If you limit the use-case to "within the borders of a nation state" then its not easy to make a strong case for Bitcoin being anything other than a fringe currency.

If you consider that increasingly, the bulk of all commerce is international, a truly stateless, international currency starts to make more sense than a currency managed by any one state or group of states.


> The USD and the Euro are backed by the fact that the government will only accept payment in those currencies

But how much of it? This will stop the value from going to zero, but what's to enforce a specific exchange rate between dollars and other goods? Is it just the fixed price of postage stamps? (I'm actually inclined to agree with you but this is one detail I haven't worked out)


Honestly, that applies to any kind of currency.


We're all working with fiat currencies you know.


I think that's the point GP is making.


> Bitcoin's value is entirely belief based

Its value, like the value of any form of money, are based on the ideal properties of money.


I'm as interested in the Satoshi/Wright drama as the next bored geek, but...

...come on, this is just getting silly. Nobody really thinks Gavin was hacked, do they?


It's worth noting Gavin and Peter don't exactly see eye-to-eye on the future direction of Bitcoin. I sense a hint of glee in this tweet.


The Core devs have been waiting for a chance to cut off Gavin's commit access. This was just an excuse. I'm not defending Gavin. At this point it looks like he was fooled but taking away his commit access was a political move. Commits are public and reversible so there is no security emergency. Of anything this is a strike against the credibility of the Core devs.


Sorry I have not been following what has been going on, can somebody catch me up with a TL;DR?


Australian dude publishes fake proof he's the famous inventor of bitcoin:

* http://www.drcraigwright.net/jean-paul-sartre-signing-signif... * https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/4hflr3/craig_wrigh...

High-profile Bitcoin dev Gavin Andresen inexplicably supports the fraudster: http://gavinandresen.ninja/satoshi


Ah thank you :)

So Craig Wright isn't Satoshi then? Somebody should tell the BBC ;)


It looks unlikely but is there any actual evidence that he is not Satoshi?


There is circumstantial evidence that he isn't Satoshi, eg, he doesn't sound like Satoshi sounded, he doesn't act in ways congruent with Satoshi's actions, he doesn't seem to share goals with Satoshi's actions, he doesn't seem to have knowledge Satoshi had, etc.

On the other hand, it's absolutely possible that Wright is Satoshi, and is simply engaging in an elaborate hoax in which Satoshi does a great job of pretending to be someone else who is doing a bad job of pretending to be Satoshi. It could be!

This is the bitcoin equivalent of Last Thursdayism (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Last_Thursdayism) and much like the original, it's impossible to disprove.

Bottom line though: The real Satoshi could trivially prove he was Satoshi if he wanted to; Wright has not. Either 1) he's not Satoshi, or 2) he doesn't want to prove that he is Satoshi. Given that he spoke to the BBC in an apparent attempt to prove he is Satoshi, we can provisionally rule out option 2, leaving option 1:

He's not Satoshi.


Or he was forced to publicly admit he is Satoshi, maybe by his lawyers, but he did it in such a ridiculous manner so that nobody will actually believe him, while fulfilling his obligation to admit.


This is my first time hearing of Last Thursdayism. Thank you for making my head spin before 10am


RationalWiki: The first hit is always free ;)


It's a pretty extraordinary claim which would require similarly extraordinary evidence.

From what I've read so far the "evidence" does not barely reach "ordinary" and seems to be straight up bullshit[0][1]. Considering the last round of "Craig Wright is satoshi" ~6 months ago was similarly bullshit[2] at this point there's a pattern of Wright being a bullshit artist.

Either way, popcorn time, fun to watch from the sidelines.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/4hflr3/craig_wrigh...

[1] people have also been combing through the script screenshots (…) Wright posted, and there's a pattern of oddities: https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/4hfwg7/steve_wrigh... https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/4hgas6/wrights_sig...

[2] https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1282144.msg13196947#...


Is there any actual evidence that you aren't Satoshi?

You can't prove a negative. There's absolutely no published evidence to support the claim that he is Satoshi, and there's no reason to believe that he is.


>You can't prove a negative.

Sure you can https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow%27s_impossibility_theore...


More precisely, proving a negative requires quantifying over the entire underlying model and applying the law of excluded middle or double negation elimination. Proofs of a positive are generally constructive, and valid in intuitionistic logic which rejects the law of excluded middle as an axiom.

So you can't prove a negative if:

* It is infeasible to quantify over the entire underlying model

* You're working within a logic that doesn't admit it as an axiom, for practical reasons.

It's easy for me to argue that there are no pink ducks on my desk. It's very difficult to argue that there are no pink ducks.

People usually use "pink duck" as "example of thing that is unlikely to exist". If you choose "proposition guaranteeing that the thing doesn't exist", I think you get this argument:

Claim: There are no non-existent objects.

Proof. Let x be a non-existent object. x is a witness for its own proof, so x exists. Contradiction.

That one works in a couple logics I looked up. People boldly claiming that "For any predicate P, forall x. ~P(x) is unprovable" would have to reconcile this example. Also, the empty model satisfies that.

Of course, he may have literally meant "You can't prove a negative", as in "lumberjack on Hacker News is unable to produce a proof of any formula in the format given above". That depends on how eagerly you evaluate "You".


Is there any actual evidence that I'm not dead? Well, yes, there is :)


That's an easy one, just have to restate it differently and it works: (not dead) == alive. So, is there any evidence that you are alive? Well, yes, there is.

Unfortunately, proving that you are "not (not Satoshi)", doesn't prove that you are. The negative space is not one to one, but one to many.


Um. Yes it does. If you prove that you are not (not Satoshi), then you prove that you're Satoshi. There is this widespread myth that "you can't prove a negative" when, in fact, you can.

You might have been meaning to point out that the characters of evidence needed in either case are somewhat different: the problem with proving some negatives via an argument from silence is that an absence of evidence is expected. You see, it's an absence of expected evidence that's evidence of absence! If, given something were true, we wouldn't expect to have evidence of it, then such "arguments from silence" (we lack evidence, therefore it's not true) do not work.

So when I want to prove that someone is not a giraffe, I can reasonably expect that if they were, they would have a long neck, walk on four long legs, probably stand taller than a given human -- if I see no evidence that they have any of these, we have an absence of expected evidence. This functions as evidence of the absence of their giraffe-ness.

But when I want to prove that someone is not immortal, say, there is no expected evidence of immortality for me to hang my hopes on. I mean, I might hope that they'd been born long enough in the past that they'd have documentation of their existence lasting out hundreds of years, but I'd have to introduce more assumptions to expect this. Or I might hope that they'd been subjected to lethal force sometime during their lifespan and lived through it, but in the posh, cushy developed world there's not necessarily any reason to expect that the typical 30-year-old has suffered a grievous injury, so I'd have to introduce added assumptions about their rough past before I could expect this. Still, proof would still be possible in such a circumstance -- just ask them to kindly survive stepping in front of a train or so -- and the negative could be proved. It's just that it can't be proved by an argument from silence.

The usual way to make this semi-rigorous is to use the definition of conditional probability, where the event "A given B" is written "A | B" and its probability is defined as Pr(A | B) = Pr(both A and B) / Pr(B). Then we have some claim C with some new evidence N and some old evidence O; we can prove that three numbers that need to be known:

    P = Pr(C | O)
        the prior probability of C before adding evidence N;
    Q = Pr(N | O and C)
        the likelihood that C would generate this evidence N, given the old evidence,
    R = Pr(N | O and not-C)
        the likelihood that not-C would generate this evidence, given the same.
The expression for the probability that we want to know is then:

                              Q * P
    Pr(C | N and O) =  --------------------
                        Q * P + R * (1 - P)
An argument from silence is just an argument where the new evidence N to be incorporated is the lack of some observation, for example the lack of observed dying after being shot by a gun, or the lack of observing a long neck on a person claimed to be a giraffe.

We can then see that arguments from silence are still supportive (Pr(...) > P) whenever Q > R, but may not raise P to the level where we'd really bet on it. In particular if P is very unlikely (e.g. immortality would have a P of one in 10 billion or worse, given what we've seen about the world), then with Q=1 (e.g. not dying when shot, given immortal), you're still looking for R to be commensurately tiny (e.g. the shot must have survival odds 10 billion to 1 against) to raise the argument from silence to a decisive position. Any weaker sort of silence does not confirm it enough to raise it to the level of plausibility, although of course you can rinse and repeat with N now incorporated into O (so we can talk about someone who has been shot, poisoned, and hanged many times on many different occasions and each of them might have a 1/100 survival rate; still if we have her surviving 5 such things which are individually bad evidence, we may get a non-negligible probability that all together they are good evidence and either she's conspiring with her killers or else maybe she is, in fact, immortal.)


That exactly the opposite. Can you prove in absolute terms that aliens or bigfoot don't exist (with current technology and information)? No. If you had bigfoot chained up could you prove he does exist? Yes.


It's hard to prove a negative.

All we know is that, at the moment, he is trying to convince that he is Satoshi but uses deceptive proofs.


Yes. Satoshi wouldn't publish bullshit evidence of him being Satoshi.


Surely he would, if it would cause people to believe he is not Satoshi. Which it did. Simple reverse psychology.


How do you know this? Did you know him personally?


> It looks unlikely but is there any actual evidence that he is not Satoshi?

Is there any actual evidence that I'm not the Flying Spaghetti Monster?


Yes, if you were, you wouldn't have to ask, you'd already know.


I know that I am, but I wanted to check whether you are a true believers or pretenders. :-)


Maybe I missed something. What's the big deal if Wright is Satoshi?


(a) It means he's got a few hundred million dollars stashed away in BitCoin.

(b) He can then claim priority as benevolent dictator for life, with a reasonably good chance that the community will follow him. For example, he could probably fork BitCoin to have more frequent transactions and larger block sizes, and his fork would hit a critical mass of users to the point where the BitCoin Core group would have to accept those changes or else risk a blockchain split which could kill the currency altogether.


For those that do own or trade Bitcoin, how did you acquire them? Mining? Buy them out-right using a linked bank account on Coinbase (or some other marketplace)? Received them in-trade from someone?


A combination of the latter two.

I have bought and sold items from/to individuals using bitcoin, bought and sold bitcoin from exchanges, received them in donation for programs I have produced, and sent them in donation for programs/services others have produced/rendered.


In the early days, back when you could mine ~1 bitcoin per day on any old GPU, I mined some. I've since sold all the ones I mined. I've used several exchanges over the years, but most of the btc I have now I've bought with dollars from my bank account, primarily via Circle. I've paid btc for some goods and services but never sold a good or service for btc.

Unfortunately I never really made a full-throated commitment to btc so I'm not a bitcoin millionaire. :(


I have a regular scheduled buy on coinbase. I just use it as a second savings account that has waaaaay better returns than my actual savings account over the past year.


Same here. Seen about 40% returns on it, and I'm mostly just building a second retirement account instead of worrying about day-trading, etc.


And do you trust them linking to your bank account to perform the withdrawal? I've never dealt with Coinbase before.


At least in Europe, fraudulent direct debit withdrawals are a lot more damaging to the company performing them than to the person whose money was taken -- the latter can undo the transaction and the former might lose the right to do any (legit or not) direct debits plus bad press.


Coinbase is as legit as it gets. You can even check your balance through usaa now, if you bank there.


There are so many theories on what is happening, let me propose yet another. Satoshi Nakamoto is akin to the Dread Pirate Roberts. Who knows how many Satoshi's there have been? Some may have died, some may have lost interest, but the torch continues to burn, and must be passed on.


Allowing any single person be able to push a commit to something as important at Bitcoin sounds dangerous.


There's more to it than that. Bitcoin has many eyes watching the commits so a commit from a bad actor wouldn't get very far.

Secondly the devs come to some form of consensus and Gitian build is created and signed. https://gitian.org/.

Thirdly, the miners decide whether to build the blockchain based on the newer version of the software.


Do you know how Bitcoin insures the code reviews are done and there's not bias in the review process?


In theory they only do merges and everything has to go through a pull request.

Probably with this required status checks feature: https://help.github.com/articles/enabling-required-status-ch...


The miners aren't forced to run the code that anyone commits.





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