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CryptoKitties craze slows down transactions on Ethereum (bbc.co.uk)
231 points by scaryclam on Dec 5, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 176 comments



The headlines are a bad look for Ethereum, but this is actually a really good thing for the protocol overall I believe.

It's a very important stress test for the network on something less risky than pure financial transactions, for example.

Also it's educating a lot of people across the entire spectrum of individuals (in terms of cryptocurrency awareness).

For example, I'm a software developer with a high level knowledge of crypto, but I'm now running an eth node locally in order to be able to breed cats more reliably. I've learned a lot more about Ethereum in the past few days, which is cool.

On the other end of the spectrum is my wife, who now has a cursory understanding of the blockchain concept thanks to the fact that there's a polished front-end on top of it as well as the fact that we're generating Ether regularly by breeding cats (she's less enamored by the Cat aspect and moreso by the dividend opportunities). I imagine plenty of spouses/friends/colleagues/etc would be interested in the cute cat aspect, however.

It may appear totally ridiculous (and parts of it absolutely are), but it's a really great thing for cryptocurrency overall, imo.


I agree that it’s generating interest amongst non-nerds, but I don’t see how this can be positive for the core idea of Ethereum: a single blockchain that many apps are run on simultaneously. The effective fees for all users have gone up massively because of a relatively small number of people playing a very simple game. Many other applications are being effectively ddos’ed if they can’t produce enough value per transaction to justify the fees. Cryptokitties had to increase the transaction fee to birth a cat from just under a $1 to $6-7 [1], imagine how much it would cost to run any of the long-promised distributed apps like a car-sharing service.

[1] https://twitter.com/cryptokitties/status/937794977848897536


The market has decided that kitten Giga Pets is more interesting and valuable than Etheriuber, at least for the time being. This possibility was always present, and now it has come to fruition. I don't see the problem.


Indeed. Welcome to capitalism.


The scaling limits of today's Ethereum aren't exactly news. There's a lot of work going into improving matters drastically over the next year or two, and some low-hanging fruit that could help in the short term: http://www.trustnodes.com/2017/12/05/protocol-improvements-i...


No, it's not news, but seeing a few thousand virtual cats affect the network and effectively drive transaction costs up 7x in real time really brings it home. It's one thing to have to worry about your competitors gaining traction, and quite a another to have to worry about the modest success of every random toy app that uses the same stack threatening to blow up your cost model.


Would you consider doing a writeup on what was involved in your local eth node for breeding?


How do you get the breeding to partake on your local node?


> The game's top cat brought in $117,712.12 (£87,686.11) when it sold on Saturday, 2 December.

Is it weird that I think that the cat that was sold for 100K was a wash trade (someone trading with themself)? Who would honestly pay 100K for a 'rare' digital cat? Just because something's rare doesn't mean it's valuable.

I think it's interesting foreshadowing that the developers are calling these "breedable Beanie Babies".

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/201...


Well, I would say there are two things to consider:

1) it's not just an investment in the asset.

It pays dividends. The asset can breed once per week, so that could be $1k+ per week generated.. paying for itself over time. Since this is the lone genesis kitty, its offspring could fetch a totally arbitrary value.

2) This is ethereum we are talking about. If the ether was bought 1 year ago today, it would have cost $1,557.1. Someone could have made a $1.5k investment 1 year ago which is now paying for itself weekly.


> It pays dividends

It doesn't pay dividends in ETH, it pays dividends in more kitties. Is that really a dividend?

If apple shares could only pay dividends in more apple shares instead of USD would they have any value?

> This is ethereum we are talking about. If the ether was bought 1 year ago today, it would have cost $1,557.1. Someone could have made a $1.5k investment 1 year ago which is now paying for itself weekly.

Ethereum at least has a purpose, cryptokitties do not seem to have one. Besides, you can't just say that the price of one crypto asset will go up because a different one has gone up in the past!


> Ethereum at least has a purpose, cryptokitties do not seem to have one

Neither do collectible stamps, yet people buy them regularly. The most expensive one costing $200K, with the face value of 15 cents.


$200K?

"On May 22, 2010, the yellow stamp was auctioned once again by David Feldman in Geneva, Switzerland. It sold "for at least the $2.3 million price [that] it set a record for in 1996"." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treskilling_Yellow


> If apple shares could only pay dividends in more apple shares instead of USD would they have any value?

Um, yes.. as long as Apple shares can be sold for USD (which they can).

And it sounds like these “cryptogkitties” can be sold for ETH. Your analogy confuses me.


Apple shares are worth money because they entitle one to a share of ownership and voting rights in a company that engages in real wealth production, and would be worth lots even if they reinvested all their dividends like Amazon.

The same cannot be said of these kittens... that this obvious point even needs to be stated is just sad.


People are obviously paying for kittens, and skins in Counter-Strike and tons of other meaningless things. Are you saying these markets are imaginary?


He's not suggesting the markets are imaginary, simply suggesting that there isn't a backing asset to stabilize them. Sure people buy counter-strike skins right now but there is very little reason to believe that the current version of counter-strike in which these skins exist will be popular in perpetuity. At some point people will move on from the game, maybe even to the next version of counter-strike... at which point those assets values will decrease significantly. Just like people moved on from beanie babies, and just like they'll move on from crypto kitties.

To suggest that these things are anything other that highly speculative is intellectually dishonest at best, gambling at worst.


I think the point is one can imagine someone believing their $117k cat breeding lots of kittens that they can manage to sell for ETH (and/or later exchanged to USD), netting them a profit after some time.


No, it DOES pay dividends in ETH. You can set a `Sire Fee` and let your cat be the sire for other players cats.


> If apple shares could only pay dividends in more apple shares

Google shares don't pay any dividends at all.

Why exactly do people pay 1,000 USD for one share of GOOGL?

Are they buying an option on the right to receive dividends at some indeterminate point in the distant future?

Do they think they'll receive a fraction of the enterprise value when Google gets bought by a bigger company?

Will Google get sold off piece by piece and they'll get a pro-rata share of the liquidation proceeds?

Why would you pay "real money" for an electronic entry in the broker's ledger for an intangible asset that may never get converted back into USD?


> Are they buying an option on the right to receive dividends at some indeterminate point in the distant future?

> Do they think they'll receive a fraction of the enterprise value when Google gets bought by a bigger company?

> Will Google get sold off piece by piece and they'll get a pro-rata share of the liquidation proceeds?

Yes, but also a bet on other people's demand for those things - its asset backed. Since they all are based on USD I think they're a little safer bet than a cat fad.


> Yes, but also a bet on other people's demand for those things

Exactly.

> its asset backed

Not really. Google's assets minus its liabilities are $139 billion. The value of its stock is $724 billion.

So 81% of the company's value isn't "backed" by anything -- not the company's assets, not the promise to pay dividends in the future, nothing.


> It doesn't pay dividends in ETH, it pays dividends in more kitties. Is that really a dividend?

No, that’s not paying dividends, that’s diluting share value.

The logical thing to do for a recipient of more shares is to sell them into the market for currency, thus diluting the value of remaining shares.


We saw this Virtual Pet Movie already in 2010 with Zynga and people buying virtual food with real $$ to feed Zynga Cats on facebook site and sub sequent Zynga IPO at $10 .

After few years of IPO we all know where Zynga virtual pet compapny is .


http://mashable.com/2009/12/31/crystal-palace-space-station-...

Project entropia is a notorious MMO that ran on real money, more or less. Your bullets literally cost real money. $330k for a space station in it, that the person hoped to make money off of.


You're right.

If I had a game like this, I would want people to think they could make a lot of money by playing.

An easy way to create that impression and to generate hype would be to make some high-value self-trades.

If the game founders or early adopters didn't do this, they probably should have.

It's not proof they did but there's means/motive/opportunity.


neopets.com


That's an MMORPG for kids. You can go on quests, enter contests, chat with friends, post on their forums, make guilds, do battle against other pets, solve puzzles, trade on the NEODAQ, and make a little home. Pets cost a few bucks. Honestly from googling neopets it sounds an awful lot like a better version of club penguin.

With cryptokitties we're talking about 100K for a picture of cat. From what I've read the platform is dedicated only to buying and selling these cats.


Yea but, the thing about ethereum is its conceptually about building on top of the technology.

There is nothing stopping people from building on top of even the cryptocat system, making a game where these cats are usable for any of your listed game mechanics.

It doesn't need any kind of api-integration to cryptocats, it just needs to reference the already public cat compendium.


Wow this is an idea that I hadn't even considered before! That any smart contract is just a little piece of code with an API and an Ether cost. I'm getting so many ideas for cryptokitty horse racing...


it was for kids in 2000 but now those kids are 20-30+. They never made the switch to mobile and that is when the site truly lost any chance of new players. In its heyday it was not uncommon to regularly see people with 10k$+ spent on their accounts.

While the site did have those features you mentioned, they were glitchy and never updated past the original 1990s php code. xss everywhere losing your account was inevitable

what people used the site for was the same as the crypto kitties. Collecting digital widgets and participating in the markets the buying and selling of those things created.

100k for a crypto kitty is pretty nuts but its the most rare and valuable not like they are commonly hitting that.

on neopets you could buy "wearables" to dress your pet but these couldn't be sold for the in game currency and buying in game points and items was illegal.

Neopoints went for $3 per million (now maybe a buck or two) on the forums dedicated to cheating which hosted off site marketplaces.

if you were a cheeky 13 year old and figured out how to use xss to steal a lot of cookies or even better their database with an sql injection you could easily amass trillions in neopoints.

When the off site marketplaces stick the price at a few bucks per million that is a lot of money you could make when you have thousands of stacked accounts with rare items and pets and neopoints.

I would say it is extremely likely someone spent 100k in a single purchase at least once. I personally saw people selling what they amassed at a bulk price of 10k many times.

The real money maker was selling hash lists and database leaks of account info. Sell accounts for a buck a piece, maybe one in 50 had anything decent, so just selling lists worked out to be a better way to make money because you aren't responsible for securing the hacked goods, and you make a profit every time even if the account is empty

gosh this makes me want to play again. maybe not violate the cfaa stealing their database, or performing xss to steal cookies, even though that is the most fun part of the game. Maybe looking for bugs to report them rather than to steal accounts items etc would be fun. Either way If you want to hang out and rum some fuzzers or figure something out let me know.

i will for sure rejoin to make bots again. writing bots for neopets (containing password stealers) was my very first taste of programming, and the code I wrote was surprisingly succinct and elegant.


clearly i was not playing neopets right


It is a now pretty much dead fleshed out version of this. You can play all the features you mentioned of the game for free. Anything you can officially pay for is cosmetic, like clothing for your pet.

There are also entire off site communities dedicated towards selling items and neopoints

the site was bought from its founders by Viacom for 100m

I used to trade digital assets on games like this exactly like people trade crypto currencies today.

Both the interest in having a digital collectible and using electronic points as a store of value


As long as people want to pay for this it holds value. If someone is ready to pay 10k for it, it's worth 10k.


If only a single person was willing to pay 10k then, after he has done so, it’s no longer worth 10k.


Seems like a good thing: "using up" the (currently very small) available transaction space per block, will put pressure on the Ethereum network to move more quickly to Proof-of-Stake (which will have the same blocks, but a much faster mining rate, so it won't matter nearly as much); which will in turn put pressure on Ethereum clients to develop more space/bandwidth-efficient strategies for retrieving and storing those blocks (i.e. more things in line with Parity's "warp" sync.)


There's no evidence Proof-of-Stake can work as a replacement for Proof-of-Work.


I'd be happy respond to this comment if it was a bit more fleshed out and didn't sound like an attempt at trolling, for instance why you don't consider existing POS currencies like NXT to be "evidence".


www.truthcoin.info/blog/pow-cheapest/

Example: You come back online after your node had been off.

You receive updates to the blockchain in a PoS world. This is literally no cost to someone trying to commit fraud against you by staking their coins and creating fraudulent blocks.

You receive updates to the blockchain in a PoW world. You start receiving blocks with roughly the same amount of PoW included in previous blocks. You know that an attacker would have had to completely duplicate the entire PoW hashrate to create this clone of the blockchain. Since this would be extraordinarily costly, you can assume that after 6 blocks (or whatever is the expedience to transaction value trade of you're willing to make) it would be economically infeasible to commit.

Creating the implementation of PoS doesn't take an inordinate amount of time. The reason it hasn't been released is because it's a vaporware of a consensus system. The Ethereum foundation won't publicize this because they can continue to convince new ethereum buyers that Ethereum will solve that pesky Byzantine General's problem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_fault_tolerance


>You receive updates to the blockchain in a PoS world. This is literally no cost to someone trying to commit fraud against you by staking their coins and creating fraudulent blocks.

Ethereum proposes to prevent this by including "slashing conditions" that inflict large penalties on the type of fraudster you're talking about [0].

[0] - https://github.com/ethereum/wiki/wiki/Proof-of-Stake-FAQ#tha...


Bitcoin is not the first solution to Byzantine fault tolerance. It's not the best solution either.


But it's the first one that's resistant to Sybil attacks without requiring centralization, is it not?


Okay, that is true. I am just not satisfied with proof-of-work as a solution there. It makes Sybil attacks unreasonably expensive, by making the entire operation of the chain even more unreasonably expensive.

I do like the math behind Bitcoin but I wish it had just remained as a proof of concept.


Because those all require a trusted third party to make regular checkpoints of the blockchain. The argument is not that it is impossible but that no one has been able to design it trustless.

It is a reasonable argument and while you may not agree with the desire to avoid trusted third parties but there's no reason to dismiss it as trolling.


Well, the precise criticism you're making is a bit unclear to me but I'll try to respond:

Modern proof of stake systems have a concept of "finality" which I think is what you're referring to when you say "checkpoint" (older POS systems also had a more traditional checkpoint concept, but I assuming you're arguing against modern implementations)

In order to determine whether a block has "finality" in a POS system you need to either (A) have a computer running regularly on the network to determine finality on your own or (B) trust a third party to give you a valid finality designator.

So it is true that you have to trust a third party with these systems if (1) you haven't connected to the network for a year or so or (2) you are launching a brand new node.

Of course, with bitcoin #2 is also an issue since there's no way you can install bitcoin software on a new node without getting it from a trusted party.


I have never heard of "finality" being used outside Ethereum, but maybe you can point me at which existing PoS systems use the term? Or is it Ethereum specifically which is the modern PoS system?

The Ethereum PoS system, which is still a prototype and may change before the final version, uses checkpoints to guard against chain re-orgs. It is not trustless in the same sense as the Ethash system is. It's not exactly a secret but a calculated tradeoff.

The question here however was about how "currencies like NXT" work, which can hardly be described as modern seeing it was one of the first together with PPC. I believe they never fixed the fact that the optimum mining strategy is not the altruistic one the reference client uses. As long as all participants use the reference client they're safe, but it's not something you would want to base a trillion dollar economy on.

In general the challenges with proof-of-stake systems are how to avoid collusion, how to avoid exploratory mining on every possible chain, and variants thereof. (There's also the related problem how to bootstrap a node from scratch in face of equally probable views of history.) Different blockchains have tried different ways to mitigate this, including hard coded re-org limits and coin weights, but the only ones that have proven at scale are the ones that regularly checkpoint the chain. But please correct me if you know of any exceptions.


Tendermint and Ethereum are the ones I'm most familiar with- Both use the term "finality" frequently.

In Ethereum POS, an arbitrary PC can use a deterministic algorithm to exactly calculate the checkpointed/finalized block- There is no magical signature used by the ethereum foundation that "blesses" blocks as being checkpoints.

> how to avoid exploratory mining on every possible chainges with proof-of-stake systems are how to avoid collusion

In both Ethereum POS and tendermint this is a solved problem, anyone can earn a reward by providing proof that a user is mining multiple histories.

> There's also the related problem how to bootstrap a node from scratch in face of equally probable views of history

Yes, this is still an existing theoretical limitation of POS that is not shared by POW and is a valid criticism of POS- But even on a POW chain you still have to trust software from a third party to some degree in order bootstrap your node.


"Solved problem" is perhaps a bit strong. There's no reason to assume every possible chain is visible to every client. An attacker would not release a chain until they are certain to profit from it. There are likely bribes to be taken for reversing transactions, and these add up at scale. There is the suggestion that penalizing non-cooperating miners would be sufficient to prevent this, but this has never been shown to hold theoretically and cover all externalities such as the mentioned bribes.

If a such a blockchain is under the control of a mining cartel, it would be rational to join that cartel instead of fighting it. When every participant knows this it should be possible to bootstrap such cartels from scratch.

And Ethereum absolutely plans to implement some sort of checkpoints. As you say, it's required to bootstrap new nodes anyway. The straightforward way to do this would be to sign them, but I'm not sure what they're planning to do.


> An attacker would not release a chain until they are certain to profit from it.

There are two scenarios: If they release a new chain after they have released a previous signature, their entire deposit gets slashed in both chains. If instead they withhold all chains then this would only work if they are able to mine multiple blocks in quick succession on different chains (since they would lose the opportunity to validate a block within the timeout window) and this is exactly equivalent to a POW selfish mining attack.


Right, and there are many variants of this scenario that other people can think of. It all stems from the same basic problems above. Punishing cheaters is necessary, but not necessarily sufficient.

The difference from a PoW model is that when mining is essentially free the incentives are different. If it doesn't cost you anything to try it makes game theoretical sense to do it speculatively.


>But even on a POW chain you still have to trust software from a third party to some degree in order bootstrap your node.

You really don't have to trust the software with POW. The POW is encoded in the blockchain itself and can be independently verified by performing a series of hash operations.

With only the blockchain data, and a description of the blockchain layout, one can independently confirm the total amount of "work" done.

This is true decentalization & a huge benefit of POW over POS.



Thank you, while I haven't read but certainly will, it would be very interesting to see these papers implemented and peer reviewed!


I believe all of those papers were accepted to top peer-reviewed academic conferences.


There is an alternative if you (a staking validator, or even a full node) does need want to trust any third party: just stay online all the time. This has its own set if downsides but it's inaccurate to say that a third party is required for Pos.


There was also no evidence you could do sub one minute blocks for Proof-of-Work. Then Vitalik read the ghost paper and figured it out. Put enough very smart people working on hard problems and eventually they will figure some of them out.


Of course you can do sub one minute blocks. Bitcoin chose 10 minute blocks to maximize decentralization. Bitcoin could also do 12 second blocks, but then the network would be as centralized as Ethereum.


Ethereum didn't just shorten block times, it uses a variant of the GHOST algorithm, which as originally proposed for Bitcoin as a way to speed up blocks and increase throughput while maintaining good decentralization and security.


Thanks for understanding me. Unfortunately my original comment seems to have been massively downvoted by uninformed HN readers.


Sure, uncle blocks help increase the weight of the chain but are also wasted blobs of data forever taking up space on the blockchain. They serve no value other than to make the PoW weighting heavier.


How does block time affect centralization?

I understand that more storage is a centralization pressure, but how does blocktime relate assuming the same number of transactions?


Because mining is dependent on the rate at which information can propagate across the network. If a mining pool is able to hear about the next block 1s sooner than another pool, it has a significant advantage when blocks only take 12s to mine. If blocks take 10min to mine, that 1s is less of an advantage.


If miners get paid for valid blocks that don't end up included in the chain, that also makes the 1s less of an advantage. Hence GHOST. Here's the original paper [1] and a later one [2].

[1] https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Accelerating-Bitcoin-s...

[2] https://eprint.iacr.org/2016/545.pdf


Sure, maybe including uncle blocks can help secure the chain. It's not without cost, however: now you're forever persisting valueless blobs of data as part of your blockchain.


It's just an extra block header every few blocks, which is a minuscule amount of data compared to the transaction records. And it's not actually valueless since the uncles are part of the block selection algorithm and therefore contribute to security.


In this space it is very hard to tell the very smart people from the people who SEEM to be very smart. Getting that wrong can be expensive.


It’s hard, but it’s not that hard. Understanding Ethereum is much easier than inventing it was. The hard part has been done you just have to understand code that’s already been written and proposals that have already been made.

Again, not easy, but it’s the bread and butter of your first year in grad school: reading and understanding existing work. Ambitious undergrads are often doing this work quite professionally.


There's been a number of attempts at least, see Ouroboros: https://eprint.iacr.org/2016/889.pdf

I'm still on the fence about the viability of PoS from the perspective that PoW at least means you have a chance of reward from using mining hardware that you probably already own, whereas PoS increases that barrier of adoption.


No, not yet. Bitcoin's "Lightning Network" is going to happen, though, so we'll see proof one way or the other soon enough.


Proof of stake and Lightning Network have nothing to do with each other, they're on completely separate axis.


I could be wrong but the Lightning Network is hardly a proof of stake system, just used to open up state channels between two members for lots of off chain transactions before finalizing on the main chain.


How are you so certain LN will ever be implemented? I'm more confident Vitalik could get PoS working before LN ever gets here. LN is vaporware and was supposed to be here long ago, yet here we are.


Lightning Network unfortunately depended on transaction malleability being fixed. This was, I believe, fixed by segwit. So it's only been a possibility since August - and the Lightning Network Daemon has been under heavy development. It can now run on the Bitcoin network itself, but is not yet in a state where it works "automagically", nor would many people depend on the code being relatively bug-free yet.


I'm actually very surprised at how slow the LN dev is going. There is actually a working version of Raiden (full, not just µRaiden) on an ethereum testnet, I'm really not sure why LN on bitcoin is going so slowly.


LN shows some very good progress in their latest video uploaded today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a73Gz3Tvx3k

"In this video Laolu (co-founder of Lightning Labs) demonstrates a multi-hop payment on Bitcoin's mainnet which travels across the 3 major Lightning implementations. In the demo Laolu (a.k.a roasbeef) sends a payment from our Lightning desktop app (https://github.com/lightninglabs/ligh...) to Starblocks, a coffee payment demo."

"This payment marks the first multi-hop, cross-implementation payment on Bitcoin's mainnet. All transaction performed in the video were performed completely off-chain, instantly, and with virtually zero fees. Lightning allows instant, low-fee payments on Bitcoin, enabling the system to scale further for the next wave of adoption. Additionally, Lightning unlocks a new class of use cases for Bitcoin enabled by the ability to instantly send low-fee payments on the system."


Move fast and break things is probably not a good idea for money.


By analogy to driverless cars, it'd make sense to avoid letting your car out on public roads; but it wouldn't make sense to avoid building a prototype and running it around a test track. A real thing lends itself to iteration much better than an on-paper idea does.


In that case Ethereum shouldn't exist at all. Solidity and the EVM itself are a good example of that philosophy. If they weren't gonna move fast they should have waited until they had a better story for static analysis and model checking of smart contracts.


Not necessarily. Keep in mind when Ethereum started, it had no value. But with bitcoin, there is huge value and so potentiality for people to loose a lot of money if there was one minor bug.


Because LN is flawed as an idea. Who wants to lock in their Bitcoin to a LN channel to pay only one entity on the other end repeatedly? It doesn't make any sense. If, and that's a huge if, you got a lot of people to lock their money up in various interconnected LN channels how do you route money through these channels in a way that is fast and inexpensive? No one has answered that question definitively.

LN proponents have put LN forward as this magical scaling solution were you can effortlessly transact Bitcoin off-chain both cheaply and inexpensively. The nontechnical believers have lapped it up not knowing that LN is an incomplete idea that starts with locking your coin up in one or more channels and end with some magical and as of yet undiscovered distributed routing network that finds a path through existing channels from channels you've already committed to, to channels your payee has committed to. That such a path exists, is cost effective and is reliable, in that your coins don't get stuck somewhere along the way, is an open question. In short, LN is half baked at best.


LN testnets are up and running, transactions work, and there's a cross-platform desktop app in beta. It's almost here, will likely go into production sometime in 2018.


Agree, but a game like crypo kitties is probably the best and only tolerable use case for LN.


The Ethereum team is already under a lot of pressure to do this, putting more pressure on them is orthogonal, and maybe counterproductive, to outcome. This is the kind of thing that needs to be done well, moreso than soon.


Proof-of-Stake is a rich-get-richer algorithm. If you hold 1% of the coins, you will mine 1% of the blocks and keep those block rewards.

Ethereum has been a promising platform for innovation. It is doomed to become a shill infested cesspool the day POS replaces POW.


How is this any different than the current situation, where your ability to get block rewards is directly proportional to your ability to spend money on mining hardware?


because anyone can start running hashing computations to generate blocks with PoW (See DMMS)

Proof of Stake requires that you buy the currency in order to create blocks.


If they have the money to buy hashing hardware that's competitive, staking that money has a lower barrier to entry... You don't need space, hardware, or technical experience to assemble the rig. Just $.


Rich people in a proof-of-stake system will stake their money because doing so gets them more free money for no cost. Rich people in a proof-of-work system have to choose between spending their money on hashing hardware and spending it on other things.


The thing about rich people is that they don't spend most of their money. Instead, they keep it locked up in relatively illiquid investments that yield big returns over long terms. The poor are stuck with riskier short term investments, if they can afford to invest at all.


Isn't Ethereum network used by Ether tokens ETH separate from CryptoKitties tokens/network?


No, ethereum allows you to build other tokens on top of it- Cryptokitties runs directly on ethereum (and requires fees paid in ether)


Same network, different tokens.


I thought the inefficiencies in Ethereum were intentional to limit the influence of mining farms and to permit home users to actually be able to contribute and mine.

With BTC you can't participate unless you invest in expensive ASICs specifically for mining.


No, every node executes the code running on the blockchain. This will be changed with sharding requiring only a percentage of nodes to run the code.


Not sure where that's from but that's not true. There are no intentional inefficiencies and you can't mine Ethereum individually.


You can mine with you GPU in a pool. You can earn a whopping $4 a week with a mid range GPU.

I wasn't saying that it's intentionally inefficient, just that it's purposefully designed to be ASIC unfriendly.


Ethereum hashing algorithm is optimized to be ASIC resistant, in other words you can mine it with GPU and CPU, a more accessible kind of hardware (in fact home hardware).

That's not an inefficiency, it's if anything more efficient with GPU.

The transaction problem applies to both, regardless of the mining algorithm.


Somebody turned cryptoPunks (https://www.larvalabs.com/cryptopunks) into cryptoKitties and made bank, genius.


The question is why was cryptokitties more successfull

EDIT> and thank you for linking that, fascinating


Trends are hard to define.

The entity behind Kitties has some other high profile projects and media contacts. If they have something interesting to talk about, they can get people talking about. And even with a large staff of their own + friends - their incidental social network alone is enough to start some yammering.

I don't think a bad project can go viral, but many viral worthy projects simply don't go viral.


Also collecting kitties appeals to more people than collecting punks.


Indeed I want one but all the ones I find cutest are expensive.

I think https://www.cryptokitties.co/kitty/102 this one should probably just be put out of its misery


I dont think thats it though.

i think its something to do with the breeding


I think the cool thing about this idea is that "cats" is just one possibility. It can work just as well with nearly anything that requires proof of ownership or uniqueness. Maybe property or mineral rights, or stock and other securities, etc.


I always looked at it as Pokemon cards. Because it's unique you can track it's history and that opens up for a whole slew of new interesting services.

Ebook's could increase in price when sold second hand (owned by such and such), an open source gaming asset exchange allowing people to buy and sell no matter the game.

Basically it crypto creates physical like scarcity in an otherwise abundant digital space.

That's the biggest deal about crypto IMO.


How does blockchain technology keep people from copying the ebooks? Why would anyone care about an abstract idea of ownership of an eBook that you could read without owning?


The value isn't in the ebook it's in the history of the ebook. Why do you think people pay extra money for a physical book they can buy cheap on amazon.

It's not the content of the book it's the affectional value of the book that's interesting.


And how odd that in some situations that scarcity seems to breed value, in and of itself.

Humans are weird.


Yup, web of information into a web of value which more closely replicates the real world.

Combine that with AR and VR tech among other wearables and sensors and we won't just be digital nomads anymore, our entire world will have become completely digitized.


While I agree with your argument in general, I'm not sure I understand this particular use case. There is an owner of this game who holds a key and decides when and how to mint new cats and generally holds the ability to change the rules of the game. Without this owner the cats are completely useless.

What is the benefit game-wise to trade the cats on a public blockchain? To an outside observer it seems like the users have to pay transfer fees at the order of a dollar for no particular reason. As long as someone controls issuance (which is completely reasonable for this type of game) they could just track ownership as well which would be trivial to scale.


I guess it's convenient not to have to deal with a payment processor when selling the kittens. I'm not sure how happy PayPal et al would be to take their business.


From 10 years dealing with different type businesses doing Paypal... they will approve you by default and unless you selling something from their prohibited items list, they will only care about dispute/chargeback levels. If you behave yourself they wouldn't care and I'm having hard times imagining people trading virtual gifts, such as in-game skins, to trigger lots of disputes, because that would eventually ban their PP account rendering them unable to purchase more in the future.


Property, stock and mineral rights come with a massive slew of legal issues which can't reasonably be articulated in an algorithm.

Moreover, ETH in this case isn't really solving a problem for anyone.

That said - there are certain instruments (like cats!) wherein contracts could be designed around the limitations, for which it might work well.

But for the things you listed, I don't think so.


No, it cannot work for things that are physical because just like with any other piece of software, the smart-contract has no impact on the physical world, thus ownership must be legally enforced the same way it is with centralized systems that track ownership.


Better tracking of ownership can be a good thing even when you do need another system for enforcement.

For example, a problem for many low-income people in the U.S. is that consumer loans get sold and resold, often with poor record-keeping, and its hard for the consumer and the courts to know whether a creditor claiming nonpayment actually has a right to be paid. This is described in detail by Matt Taibbi in his recent book The Divide.


> consumer loans get sold and resold, often with poor record-keeping, and its hard for the consumer and the courts to know whether a creditor claiming nonpayment actually has a right to be paid.

Well, a loan isn't a physical object so that example doesn't really apply to my comment, however, I still don't think it solves the underlying issue since the cause of the problem isn't a lack of reliable record keeping technology, it's "poor record keeping" which is a deliberate choice made by some businesses regardless of what technology is available.


Which is possible because we trust those businesses to keep proper records, instead of putting them on a public blockchain that doesn't require us to trust anyone.

Another example which is physical is real estate records in some third-world countries, where the central government wants to enforce property rights but bribes to the local register of deeds are effective at getting the records changed. (I read about this in an article in The Economist several years ago, so don't have a reference handy.)


> we trust those businesses to keep proper records, instead of putting them on a public blockchain that doesn't require us to trust anyone

Nothing really changes. You still have to trust that those private businesses will correctly use the record keeping technology. In a world with practical blockchain record keeping they would simply fail to use it or use it incorrectly.


Not if you use a contract that transfers ownership only with an on-chain payment. Even without that, you at least can't claim you lost the records, as these companies sometimes do.


My point is that the incentives for the debt purchaser to use reliable record keeping is unchanged.


Set it up legally so the loans in the system are only transferrable via on-chain payment, and teach the courts how to read those records, and it doesn't matter what the incentives are. The chain is the source of truth that way. If you're recorded as the owner on chain, you're the owner, full stop.


If you're going to setup an entire legal framework that forces businesses to use a particular record keeping system then the problem is already solved. You could legally force businesses to keep appropriate records or to participate in a centralized record keeping system operated by a trusted third party like a government or tribunal. You could also use a blockchain for this, but it doesn't offer much value.


They're already required to keep appropriate records. But the courts don't have money to go checking so they just trust companies to swear they have them, and the companies lie.

And sure, you could spend a bunch of money setting up a government database and employees to run it, but at some point it's easier to write a few lines of code and be done with it.


The problem with what you state, is that your are pegged to ETH for currency of the whole system and quantified value of such stocks/securities. I don't see many mature corporations switching to this, but ICOs are an example of younger business willing to be 'pegged' to ETH. Some other smart contract platform like NEO support better out of chain functionalities.


Yes and when you want to sell something important like mineral rights you have to line up behind everyone selling CryptoKitties :)


that's what http://rare.network is building and they'd love any feedback you have I'm sure! The Discord is full of some of the best minds in rare digital art, feel free to stop in and say hi.

(disclosure: advisor, board member)


Bitcoin enthusiasts in 2009: Bitcoin is for making currency transactions

Bitcoin enthusiasts in 2017: Bitcoin is for storing value

Ethereum enthusiasts in 2015: Ethereum is for making trustless currency transactions

Ethereum enthusiasts in 2020: Ethereum is for storing cats


This was predictable to anyone who paid attention to Vitalik's t-shirts.



In all seriousness, this is a good stress test for the network.


The article points out that on Saturday, someone basically bought a 256-bit number for $117,712.12. Are we all in the wrong line of work, or what?


I would gladly sell you a 256-bit number–that is actually the password to my swiss bank account–for 100k USD. For all you know, there might be a lot of gold in it.


It could have easily been the same person transferring money to themselves though, for either PR or money laundering purposes.


"someone basically bought a 256-bit number for $117,712.12"

The same could be said of Bitcoin. At least with Kitties you get, well, a Kitty :)


An Ethereum private key is 256 bits. I'd buy a 256-bit private key for an Ethereum account that holds $1m for $100k.


as opposed to paying millions (billions?) for a chunk of carbon?


> Some people are concerned that a frivolous game is now going to be crowding out more serious, significant-seeming business uses.

That’s the point. The open platform of the blockchain is usable by whoever is willing to pay what it costs in fees; not by how significant-seeming their activity is.


I heard about this but send an ETH transaction in about 20 minutes this morning. I guess "slow" for ETH is a different standard than "slow" for BTC, or ACH (shudder)


20 minutes is very slow compared to, say, Paym.


Huh, this seems like a pretty interesting and different use of the technology, and probably a hint at what's to come. I wouldn't be surprised if eventually most virtual items in games were tied to a blockchain of some sort, with a free marketplace behind it. I bet there's probably an alt-coin or five out there that's planning on being the goto currency for exactly that purpose.


Even more interesting with full-scale vertical integration IMO. Game developers can raise funds to build their games by pre-selling provably rare digital assets or doing ICOs for in-game currencies that can be used on betting markets etc...



I don't mean specific to a single game. I mean a general one that can be hooked into any and all games, with an API and what not. Avatar Island doesn't seem any different than Cryptokitties according to that article. It's still cool, though.


Personally, the positive aspect I got out of cryptokitties is it exposed me to Metamask and how you can integrate blockchain in traditional web applications. It's not perfect (timeouts/slow x) but it's a cool insight at a potential future where ETH or other cryptos run financial transactions on the web.


> The game's developers describe them as "breedable Beanie Babies", each with its own unique 256-bit genome.

> The kitties' unique DNA can lead to four billion possible genetic variations.

Erm 2^256 is juuuuust a bit more than 4 billion. This seems like an error.


https://www.google.com/search?q=2^256

You're off by about 68 orders of magnitude; it's 2^32 that's approximately 4 billion.


This is what the person you are replying to was pointing out, yes, using sarcastic understatement.


Really thought that 5th 'u' in juuuuust would have implied the sarcasm tag


Six is the minimum.


I don't see the slowness. I do see transactions backing up, but the ones with higher gas prices will get priority. This is how the network _should_ work....


The fact that their is someone out there that would 1) like cats 2) like digital cats 3) wanted to buy digital cat, AND 4) knew how to operate/buy/sell/trade crypto-currency just blew my mind!

Everything I knew about targeting audience, sorting market, or leads databases in general just fell apart.


ETH noob here. I don't understand why load would be a problem. Isn't the point of ETH that "miners" provide the space/cpu to execute contracts, and get paid in gas? Why doesn't "too much load" translate to "greater gas rewards" and hence to "miners switching from other cryptos to mine eth"?


The issue is that ETH only can handle a certain amount of transactions per block (based on its block size). When the network gets overloaded, all of the potential transactions cannot be held in a single block and must be delayed until the next block, leading to higher fees for each transaction, giving it a higher priority and making it more likely to put in a block of a certain size. Same 'problem' as bitcoin; too many transactions are being fit into a finite space per block increasing competition to have your transaction in a block, but really it's just basic scarcity economics.


Interesting trend on crypto kitties : Virgin cats(ones who didn't have any kids) are more expensive than the..other ones..That's officially insane.


I'm not sure how this works but if the breeding depends on the "genes" of the parents and isn't completely random then virgin cats might be more valuable because they haven't yet made their genes more easily available via their children?


How could a 10% increase in traffic be a problem?


Are there currently any alternatives to Ethereum? (turing-complete programmable cryptocurrency)


Yes: Rootstock ( https://www.rsk.co/ ). This exists as a sidechain to the bitcoin network and implements the Ethereum virtual machine. It launched on mainnet yesterday.


Keep in mind that rootstock currently is a federated sidechain, so it is decentralized only insofar as you consider federated cryptocurrency systems to be "decentralized" (and different folks disagree about this)




eos.io just released alpha ahead of schedule https://steemit.com/eos/@eosio/eos-io-dawn-2-0-released-and-...



If Tezos ever arrives it might be a viable alternative for certain use cases.


Look at Tezos Github commits: https://github.com/tezos/

Most of them are shallow changes or "busy work" to show activity. I have been watching FileCoin and Tezos Github, and I wouldn't expect much from either one of them.


NEO, Stratas, NXT and QTUM are the ones I've been following.


I guess one of the fastest and best way to get engagement is to do something cute .


We are all all in 2017 while those guys are in 3017.

What's wrong with going to the shelter and getting an actual cat.


the cat you get at the shelter keeps requiring ether forever


Forever?


Technically speaking, a cat can continue to be an expense either directly or transitively, possibly forever, as long as the cat is fertile, has a fertile mating partner in reproductive age, and recursively produces successive generations of descendants, each one consisting of at least one live-birth of fertile cats surviving to reproductive age that you agree to be economically responsible of.

This duration would have an upper bound equal the minimum between your own lifespan and the ownership period of the cat(s).


does anyone here know how breeding works basically?


Using a variety of techniques you can create a 'crossover' between 2 genomes to breed the next generation. A simple crossover is to take the first half of one and the second half of the other and attach them together. Or any other way of combining the two to give a 'good' result, but that's the most basic way of crossover before putting the next generation into the growth chamber.

For a better explanation, see Koza's[1] work.

[1] http://www.genetic-programming.com/johnkoza.html


I'm developing a monster-taming/breeding game that offers dynamic breeding and the "base" type of breeding interpolates values to create the new child.

Items in-game of course can "nudge" the formula.

Doing this on the block-chain is an interesting idea a few people have suggested to me, but ultimately it didn't mesh with my idea of what the game should be.



Without any other context your comment is irrelevant spam.




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