Edit: didn't realize this was from 1993! Amazing to read that perspective!
They missed a big one, though. Today it was announced in the New York Times that Goldman Sachs is backing a payment fintech startup that operates on a public blockchain. JP Morgan, BNY Mellon, Credit Suisse, ING, are all involved in the EEA. Big money is making its way into cryptocurrencies presently. Groups like GS are fairly responsible for a lot of those barbed wire fences, and usually for their own gain.
Industries wont be monopolized cause forking and launching decentralised code would be free and instant.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge cryptonerd. But open source is not a panacea against monopolization.
For example, imagine a version of The Pirate Bay hosted as a Tor hidden service, combined with a completely anonymous torrent-like P2P file sharing system.
"On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other."
- Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Review, May 1985
Don't anthropomorphize abstractions; they hate that.
The corollary then to your particular analogy is that since anonymity on the internet was the default, it turned out that much of the commercial value eventually accrued to companies that correlated online activities with each other (searches, clicks, posts, likes, etc.) and tied the bundle to an identity.
But ignoring the IP address assignment issues, do you remember what website log analysis tools (eg. http://www.webalizer.org/) were like back then? Most encouraged dumping the raw logs and just keeping the summarizing reports.
As a result, for most intents and purposes the data on nearly all user information consumption and interaction was ephemeral.
These New Yorker cartoons sum up the situation then and now:
It sounds like there may be some history you missed out on. I recommend reading 'The Cuckoo's Egg' by Cliff Stoll if you've not already done so.
It's hard to get "completely anonymous" for large video files. It's the snake-eating-a-pig problem. Torrents anonymize much better than streaming, because users are sharing many small pieces. Torrenting is very popular on I2P. With Tor, it's best to use only onion services, because exit resources are limited.
There's potential to multipath transfers among onion services. MPTCP works, right out of the box. That would enable high-bandwidth torrenting. It'd also provide chaff for normal Tor users. And there's currently oversupply of entry guard and middle relay resources.
I don't think that's necessarily true. For example, pirated copies of media are typically created when someone legally purchases a copy of the work and then publishes it for others to use entirely for free. I find it very hard to believe that the people posting these pirated works want those works to be expensive for others to acquire.
> I don't think that's necessarily true.
You seem to have mistaken “often” for “always”.
It's obviously a metaphor.
TLDR; There's currently a bill to make cryptocurrencies illegal. (and other stuff that the government can't control)
It looks like they're going to treat cryptocurrencies like cash. Somehow, it looks like they think they are going to be able to detect it at the border. I have no idea how they think they are going to do that. If you want to get around it, just don't leave evidence of it on your devices when you cross the border. Dropbox exists.
Other than that, they've already made it so that it is illegal to do certain transactions, over $10,000, without notifying the government. My understanding is that exchanges already follow this rule, but I bet there are some .onion sites that beg to differ, just a hunch.
But, it doesn't look like they are making them illegal. It almost looks like they are recognizing it as legitimate. If you read the proposal, treat it like a find/replace. It is modifying existing laws.
If anyone knows more about this and wants to explain why I'm misunderstanding this I'd be thankful :-)
I first saw it on Reddit, I presume that isn't its starting point though.
The crypto wars
The crypto wars 2: The empire strikes back
and that's just one poignant sentence in the fairly small but very accurate manifesto.
Apart from some banana republics, governments around the world have been incredibly relaxed with regards to Bitcoin. The rules that have been established are as favourable as anyone could imagine (i. e. trading being exempt from VAT etc.).
Yes, they have insisted on existing rules, mostly of the know-your-customer variety. It's funny you're citing "national security concerns, use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders", as if those were just talking points to hide the real reasons. Because for the life of me I can't think of any other, legal, activity governments are trying to suppress by regulating bitcoin. What exactly is that killer app of bitcoin that so frightens the establishment?
Right now in order to spend ones bitcoins (with a few exceptions) one has to change them into fiat currency and that's where the establishment can monitor and control the money flow.
What will happen when a critical mass of service providers and product sellers will gladly accept crypto coins? That's when one can hide his cash reserves from the prying eyes of the state. And they'll be able to pay smaller and smaller taxes.
And I doubt that the establishment will be happy to have smaller and smaller budgets at their disposal.
That's empirically true, for only a tiny sliver of very strange people still fantasise about some Randian utopia of every-man-for-himself. And it's logically inescapable, since there's no way to sustain today's societies without the cooperation established by taxes.
To the degree one can differentiate societies sustained by taxes from sustained by lines of credit extended to societies in promise of future taxes of which are now under question…
New "establishments" will form that better serve those who reap the benefits of engaging in crypto-economic behaviors, Old ones will die/become obsoleted/increasingly ineffective at enforcing their diktats, some overlap of functionalities may exist/remain between such. Same as it ever was.
10k software engineers effectively dodging/avoiding taxes on 100k/y of income, who can organize/allocate resources to some other ends seems like a plausible block of people to put up some effective asymmetrical resistance against taxes to governments of various sizes over the world. Yet still a drop in the bucket in terms of population size.
Do a few engineers who are unable to imagine such, really pose a threat agaisnt people are/trying to create something new?
 I use this very loosely, could be traditional meat spaces ones, or decentralized digital networks with active and passive mechanisms for ensuring survival.
This guy seems to think so ^
> An anonymous computerized market will even make possible abhorrent markets for assassinations and extortion. Various criminal and foreign elements will be active users of CryptoNet. But this will not halt the spread of crypto anarchy.
See Silk Road, Bitcoin, Monero
Bitcoin was not shut down because of it. Bitcoin is, however, frequently used to launder stolen bitcoin.
Bikes are frequently used to launder stolen bikes.
I'm still kicking myself over that.
Edit: See comments below. Turns out it's from 1988.
Tim May was a vocal, eloquent proponent of anarcho-capitalism, and believed that crypto and the net were crucial tools that would tip the balance of power between the individual and the state, cause an erosion of tax-collection powers, and eventually tip the world into a mode of 'voluntary' interaction that others, myself included, argued is indistinguishable from feudalism.
 For those of you who are aware of the various minute distinctions made around these schools of thought, May proposed a very "hard" form, arguing that 'voluntary' agreement to slavery and whatnot were perfectly acceptable.
Good thing you've got The State extorting and enslaving you then, to protect you from that "feudalism".
And An-Caps never seem to understand why nobody takes them seriously.
Some of his posts in the '90s were tough to read, but they were interesting without fail. Anyone know if/where he posts nowadays?
Those who fear the loss of the freedom that the Internet once represented (in relation to recent battles of net neutrality, tor monitoring/capturing, fear of brutal regimes' scrutiny and persecution, etc.) have yet another avenue of hope.
I have a basic inspiration and hope in humans growing and learning, increasing our ethics to begin to catch up to our technology.
Seriously, what better dream to plant in the slaves' minds but the idea that "a simple little computer program" can set you free? And what better way to control them and stifle their rising-up than by the constant deception that they have more power than they do? Fools. They're all god-damned fools.
People talk about VR being 10 years away. We've already been living in it for ages. The Matrix. Democratic Theatre. We've all been living in a dream world. I think we like it here. Because, IMHO, most people would rather blame a higher power for their sh*t than take responsibility to control their own lives.
And whether that higher power's the state or some religion, doesn't matter. It still sets up the same power dynamic that makes most people, IMHO, slaves.
Yet when people overthrow tyrannical governments to then establish democracy the planning is done secretly.
And when tyrannical governments come to power the first thing they do is monitor and restrict communication.
This has been true many times in history in the last hundreds years.
Another point is -- all governments monitor communications and we don't call them tyrannical. Take the Germans. They're notorious. But people consider the Germany government quite liberal.
Restricting communications does not have to be a tool of "cruel, unreasonable, oppressive or arbitrary use of power or control." It can be deliberate, reasoned and helpful. China restricts their communications and they enjoy a lot of civil harmony, and a huge amount of national pride.
The media in the US practice a form of "information restriction and control" by tightly directing the narratives, and editorial perspective ( and sometimes even the facts ) that people are consuming. That's been the case for a long time. No one's calling it a tyranny, even tho plenty of Americans distrust authority.
I think your model of tyranny and your belief in crypto are unrealistic.
The reason I don't believe in crypto is because I consider everything as "security theatre." IMHO, every single cryptosystem that exists has already been broken. The pretense that it hasn't is just a charade.
Note: I believe in the strong version of the above statement. That RSA / EC / AES / DES and so on are broken. But the weak version, that protocols, physical monitoring, side channel attacks, and other vectors make every practical cryptosystem broken is kind of born out by the events of the last few years.
Whether you believe in the strong or the weak version of that statement the net result is the same, no? I think so, anyway.
Lucky unhappy creature, you nailed it (at least if you ask me). Twice.
Circles of dreamers, merrily dancing around technodgod of their choice. Hail Crypto!
"Optimism is cowardice", Spengler.
I am afraid that most people only care about just one thing, and dreaming does not stand in a way of it, maybe even helps.
Feels terrible, to be shaken out of the dream, eh? OTOH, a real porridge, poor smell but what an honor!
Universe goes towards maximum entropy, so reason is, in fact, against the odds. Squared, if it happens on top of life.
It might be good nobody takes words too seriously. Blaming the messenger is not nice on the receiving end. The species is going to harvest all that it saws, both short and long term.
I believe that instead of using force on nations in the middle east for example you only need to use information. The people will seek out information and this will cause them to question the status quo simply by comparing their lifestyle and culture to someone elses.
Deep down most people all want the same things.
Bombing them into oblivion only hurts this because they distrust any information coming from the aggressors.
Looking at western, developed societies - what I like to refer to as e-nations instead of i-nations - I don't believe it has changed much. You can look back before the information age in Europe and still find the same basic elements in society. People with so much freedom that they can travel the world or volunteer in other parts of the world to make a difference. Altruism in other words.
But in many other parts a larger portion of the population are still living hand to mouth and without any safety nets. Simply spreading information about the world to them will cause them to question their situation.
This is likely what caused the arab spring. People in those nations were connected to the rest of the world and refused to accept what previous generations had taken for granted.
(Maybe HN should have 1 Mega-Thread for all this stuff, like many subreddits have?)
Not at all. "State" is a political constructions while currencies are a value transport mechanism and markets are a network of those, both of which, as "pure" concepts, arises pretty quickly when one starts to ponder how to model "actors in need to exchange and use scarce resources which have alternative uses".
In that sense, saying that "currencies and markets" have any particular purpose (political at that) is like saying that someone invented the concept/idea of "hash functions" for the purpose of serving P2P piracy, which isn't the case: "hash functions" just are a thing that arises in the universe. Same with currencies and markets, they're just pretty arbitrary, easy to come up with, concepts.
I think you are conflating "fiat currencies" with "currencies". US Dollars are a currency. Gold is a "currency". Bitcoin is a currency. Calling card credits are a currency. Cigarettes in prison are a currency. Any store of value is a currency -- whether created / authorized by a state or not.
If anarchists go back to a barter system, there will always be asymmetric transactions that will require some sort of value store (basically an IOU for a transaction that already happened) or cause inefficiencies in the market (the buyer or seller would have to take a hit in order to complete a transaction). Currency always has been to fill this purpose.
> Required millions of dollars to get off the ground
I would argue that if you chose to try and replace the old Gold System with your Widgets System, you would also need lots of resources to convince others to buy into your new currency. It's not about state power as much as other people having faith in your currency keeping value, which is the only purpose of a currency.
No, any medium of exchange is a currency. (That and the unit of account function of money are deeply tied; while store of value is often cited as a function of money, it's not deeply tied to the other two, and lots of things that aren't money/currency fill it; the essential feature of currency is being a medium of exchange.)
In other words, whether the blockchain was computed by one central bank or individual miners doesn't change the nature of bitcoin in it's use. Which is a centralized public ledger.
I wouldn't be surprised if bitcoin was an attempt to shine a light on the black market. Similar to how Tor was created to hide the activities of state spooks.
Every node keeps a copy of the blockchain and occasionally one node adds a block to the blockchain (upon successful mining), then notifies other networked nodes of the new block. As soon as a block is mined, the lucky miner has a different ledger than the rest of the network. It's not until that new block propagates across the entire Bitcoin network that the ledger is updated.
Because of differences in protocol implementations, not all nodes accept the new block (this happened at least once). With the new BTC fork, it will be obvious that any stragglers on the old fork (or the new fork, if the protocol change brings insufficient consensus) will have their own fork of the blockchain, which will mean the ledger is forked.
Immediately not following you here. The singular ledger you refer to is in fact stored (and modified) by many different actors and agreed to on a majority basis. There are absolutely different versions of the ledger in existence, but the majority chooses to move forward temporally on the basis of majority consensus. That version of the ledger becomes the basis for future records, and so on.
It is an agreement between parties, in the same way that having other people refer to you by your chosen name is 'a single truth' which is actually just majority agreement.
>the product is a single central source of truth.
I can't see this aspect of your argument panning out to anything other than complete absurdity, to be honest.
>There is nothing centralized about having a single objective "reality".
Was this a typo? It appears to contradict the rest of your post. If it wasn't, I agree with this point.
Parties have to agree on terms for language to be of any use.
>mathematics are a game we play
Ok? So is money.
Rest of your comment is a nonsense since it follows a declaration that 'maths is just a game', then gets incredibly specific on a bunch of stuff which, if we're being consistent, is just maths.
Taxation of private income is anathema to privacy. You can only eliminate, prohibit or tax income if you eliminate privacy.
That's why in the manifesto it says:
>The State will of course try to slow or halt the spread of this technology, citing national security concerns, use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders, and fears of societal disintegration.
All of the major figures in the cryptocurrency field, like Nick Szabo and Wei Dai, were part of the cypherpunks mailing list. The author of the Crypto Anarchist Manifesto, Timothy May, wrote about uncensorable digital currency in Cyphernomicon, in 1994.
>A currency and markets primary purpose is to provision the state. What would a crypto currency without a state provision?
Markets and currency provision people.. Trade is a basic form of human interaction that benefits participants.
There are, and have been, both currencies and markets without (or outside) state purview. Though having a state helps standardise much about both.
See the content of the Code of Hammurabi, much of which concerned both commerce and tort.
Wampum is the source of "clams" as a synonym for money.
The use of cowhides as money is also discussed in Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, a travellogue/history of early California in the 1830s. (Also mentioned at the URL above).
The code of Hammurabi: "Nearly one-half of the code deals with matters of contract, establishing, for example, the wages to be paid to an ox driver or a surgeon."
William Stanley Jevons wrote at length on money in the 1880s, and discusses early forms of currency, including several mentioned above: https://archive.org/stream/moneyandmechani01jevogoog#page/n4...
I'll leave you free to conduct further research on your own.
Also native Americans had societies and government that rivalled European societies. Example the mound builders along the Mississippi. The 'primitive' tribes are survivors of greater failed states which developed currencies. They lived the way they did to prevent the horrors of 'civilization' from happening again.
Not vast at all when you compare it with the amount of energy used in traditional banking to move around the same amount of money.
- Arthur Schopenhauer, 1819
(Or maybe he's just referring to political truths which are coming to light at about the same pace at all times.)
Thus "freeing" is a one-way function for information. It's easy for information to go from non-free to free, but it's almost impossible for information to go from free to non-free. In that sense, information, by its nature, "wants" (if we can anthropomorphize a bit) to be free, in the same sense that matter "wants" to move to a lower energy state.
Yes, and I also want every economic transaction in which I am demand side to be priced at zero. That doesn't mean that because I deign to buy something that I am unwilling to pay for it. Quite the opposite! I will pay for it up to what I value it.
> But all it takes is one person who paid for the information to decide to redistribute it for free, and the game is over for that bit of information.
Yes, and that is a problem with non-exhaustive consumption of a resource. This duplicatible nature of data is why data firms have contracts when they sell information. The information existing in their databases has no anthropomorphic yearning for liberty.
Crypto currency will result in a net gain of useful resources by using pulses of electrical current. Silver and gold are more useful for their elemental properties rather than their primitive use as trading mediums.
The Physical and Socioeconomic Properties of Elements and Compounds
Gold, silver, platinum, and diamond. For the past ~6000 years, these three elements and one carbon structure have been sought after mostly as mediums of trade. “Various forms of livestock, in particular cattle, and grains were the earliest forms used to settle trades and payment for good goods and services. Cattle are hard to carry in your pocket and grains spoil so an alternative currency was needed”. The value of these elements during the early economic development is attributed to their scarcity, resistance to corrosion/oxidization, tensile strength (except Au/Ag, which are very malleable), structural integrity under extreme conditions (a diamond is forever, just like the love between two people). These can thus be relied upon to transfer value between two parties.
Advancements of the past 100 years have suggested new uses for these materials. Certainly diamond will continue to be sought after for its utility in drilling and abrasives, but the electrification of civilization has suggested new uses for these materials. Silver has the highest electrical conductivity of any element, but tarnishes easily when exposed to oxygen. It replaced copper as a conductor during early 20th century war-time resource rationing. Platinum has an extraordinary resistance to corrosion, and can be used to coat electrodes to split water for hydrogen and oxygen extraction (though extracting hydrogen from methane is more economical, but carbon monoxide is a byproduct).
These materials are too expensive to replace copper, but why are they expensive? Thousands of years of economics.
Silver dining utensils aren’t valued for their superior electrical conductivity. A host/hostess sets out the “good silverware” for special occasions when it would be advantageous to advertise wealth to others, or because it comforting to hold value while eating a meal.
“Solid state electronic devices use very low voltages and currents which are easily interrupted by corrosion or tarnish at the contact points.” The gold stored in sovereign vaults guarded by pensioned government employees 24/7 is not secured under these conditions because of its capacity to increase the durability of electrical contacts. It is valuable because of it, but expensive only because we are delaying the retirement of traditional mediums of resource exchange.
The abrupt arrival of the digital age has produced technologies that continue to eliminate the middlemen and inefficiencies that are parasitic to the process of transferring value. Web payment services do much to reduce physical transportation of metal and paper currencies, which saves energy and time and therefore creates more value because it directly contests systems that were already in place (though the modern currency thief is going to exploit network vulnerabilities, in the same way train robbers would exploit vast, unsecured distances between towns during the westward expansion of early America). The blockchain is an even newer technology that is continuing to be refined, and is expected to be immune to counterfeit and centralized control. Bitcoin and Ethereum are the most widely used cryptocurrencies that use the blockchain, and their value remains constant across all currencies. These concepts (especially Ethereum) are the digital manifestations of the theory of democracy - unhindered by loopholes, corruption, indecision, and private-interests.
A re-evaluation of value transfer mediums is necessary because of things like supercapacitor technology. Energy storage is the primary bottleneck in the implementation of energy harvesting mechanisms, as the sun only gives usable energy to a region for ~8 hours a day, and the rate at which the wind blows is inconsistent, albeit predictable. Silver is a useful material, not because of its electrical conductivity (which is on par with copper), but because its unmatched ionic conductivity. The Lithium-ion battery functions because of the exchange of ions between two conductive materials, and the energy density of a cell relies on the composition of the anode, cathode, and electrolyte. The primary determinant of this composition is the balance of value versus performance. Prohibitive value only exists when there is competition for the uses of a resource. Reduce this competition, and gain new utility.
More importantly, only a tiny fraction of money in circulation is actually held in cash. Today, most countries could declare all cash worthless overnight and it wouldn't have a major effect on the economy. All the infrastructure to move to electronic payments is already in place, and trade could continue unharmed.
The kind of democracy where having more money means you get more votes, which is the kind of democracy almost nobody would want to live in lest someone has more money than them. I don't know the word for such a thing, but it sounds barbaric, yet I've seen it seriously proposed.
Taking "vote with your wallet" to the extreme.
ether whales have nothing on USD whales. 8 people control 50% of wealth. There is also income disparity and monetary controls making that dilution of individual power inescapable.
And that's just personal wealth. There is also corporate wealth and government reserve currency.
I don't think it's taking "vote with your wallet" to the extreme. It's already there. On the contrary, I think it's making it tenable.
One of the many advantages of selecting representatives randomly from the citizenry is that it eliminates the position of professional politician.
If you're arguing that this may lead to the selection of unqualified representatives, yes, that's certainly a risk.
But the very same people are already voting in the current system. They may not become representatives themselves, but they're certainly choosing them.
If your society can't safely select their representatives at random from the voting population, you already have a civic problem, regardless of which approach you take.
Hell, half of Americans can't be bothered to vote. How are they going to contribute to the political process in any meaningful way when harboring that much apathy?
Also worth noting is just how much power the unelected bureaucracy has in a democracy. It's yet another reason to keep the scope of Government strongly constrained.