I would suggest also taking a look at the annotated version of the whitepaper on Fermat's Library:
I wrote some of the annotations and tried as much as possible to make it so that this annotated version would provide a motivated reader with all the resources needed to truly understand the bitcoin protocol.
Michael Nielsen's blogpost about Bitcoin (http://www.michaelnielsen.org/ddi/how-the-bitcoin-protocol-a...) is also a great read.
Found it: https://medium.com/cryptomuse/how-the-nsa-caught-satoshi-nak...
there is even a faucet (pretty much the site sends you a few pennies worth of BCH for free) and instructions to setup a wallet.
When I finally (recently) did I was dumbstruck by its simplicity.
This was a big lesson for me: I should always at least try to understand these big ideas even if deep understanding will probably elude me.
Along similar lines (complex topics explained beautifully and simply by their creators), I recommend Relativity: The Special and General Theory by the man himself. It's a great explanation of relativity without the need to have a strong math background. He explains it in the form of thought experiments, as only he could do. "What if you were in a cage in space with a rope tied to the top and it was being pulled upward by a giant at a constant acceleration (simulating gravity)? How would you perceive the world?" (Spoiler: This is gravity.) "What if you were on a spinning disk and had a ruler and tried to calculate pi?" "What if you were on a train moving really fast and two lightning bolts struck at the same time?"
I read one of Albert Einstein's popular science on the same topic and folded when a completely paradox statement was justified by saying, welp you'll surely agree on this.
Like we don't already have enough problem with trolls on other sites, we now have them on HN. Sigh
So it's a theory, but one could say that it is much more useful than Bitcoin.
Btw, Bitcoin also works based on mathematical theories. If someone were to prove P = NP, Bitcoin doesn't work any more, because I can now steal all your money.
The current belief is P != NP, that's why people trust bitcoin, and crypto in general. But it's still a theory.
When I first started learning about Bitcoin, I automatically assumed that the whitepaper would be filled with all kinds of fluff like most other research papers, so I never read it.
Instead I tried to learn from all the "Learn Bitcoin in 10 minutes", "Build your own Blockchain in 200 lines", and all that stuff, all of which are nothing more than a shallow scraping the surface type of pop-sci content.
The problem with these Medium articles and "intro to Bitcoin" posts is that they're trying too hard to abstract out something that's already simple, that the abstraction itself is much more complex than what it actually is. Not to mention the fact that after reading all that stuff, all you come away with is some abstraction, not the actual Bitcoin.
Anyway, so I thought why not just take a look at the whitepaper. And I was blown away. I've never seen a "research paper" with so little fluff. The whitepaper helped me understand Bitcoin much better than all the weird analogy intro blog posts that litter the web.
I recommend anyone to just start from the whitepaper.
OT: This paper is produced using a wordprocessor; my PDF reader says it is produced by OpenOffice.org 2.4. The word spacing and justification of paragraphs makes me think that this is not LaTeX, nevertheless it looks professional. Tex experts have also come to this conclusion . But is it the original PDF or someone's version/copy of it?
 : https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/306754/was-anything-...
If anyone wants to collaborate on a TeX version, let me know!
Unfortunately there is no reward for researchers taking the time to write tutorial and survey papers that give more readable explanations of particular lines of work.
This is really great, I didn't know about this.
To be fair, even Satoshi apparently didn't understand the applications of blockchain beyond currency.
> The phrase "smart contracts" was coined by Nick Szabo in 1996, and reworked over several years. Szabo's first publication, "Smart Contracts: Building Blocks for Digital Free Markets" was published in Extropy #16, and then later reworked as "Formalizing and Securing Relationships on Public Networks."
Also, your prior shouldn't be too high: although Szabo is well-known from his writings now, they didn't come out of nowhere. He previously worked for Agorics, Inc., which was founded to develop these ideas: https://e-drexler.com/d/09/00/AgoricsPapers/agoricpapers.htm... which I think of as more fundamental than Szabo's smart-contracts paper. (Admittedly I never finished slogging through that one.) If you think of smart contracts as emerging from nowhere then it probably seems more likely for Nick Szabo to be the lone genius behind it all.
The only thing that people should recognize is that it doesn't really try to explain the game theory behind it. It is a technical paper. When it all sinks in, it becomes clear that it is pure genius, but that certainly took me a while to grasp.
I read the paper about 2 years back, after reading Nathaniel Popper's book 'Digital Gold...' which presents the history of cypherpunks, leading upto Satoshi's white paper. The book was enjoyable to read. And the paper's brilliance was stunning.
That said, when I think of it deeply, it does seem to me similar to pyramid schemes. The early adopters have a unfair advantage.
Also, its better that an alternative to proof-of-work is found. Although the argument is support of that, is that, it perhaps takes more energy to sustain the present financial system, the base of which Bitcoin intends to replace.
So I find myself in a curious position of being in the Blockchain camp, and unwillingly though. Which is because people who typically are in that camp, say the tech is good, but Bitcoin is not. But I believe Bitcoin by itself is a fantastic and disruptive thing. Without that app there is no platform (blockchain) evolution.
But of course Bitcoin has flaws, and we could be in a big bubble. But no half baked Tulip bulbs analogy please+.
Another flaw which I find with Bitcoin is the ownership is very fragile, compared to real world ownership. In these days of phone cameras, all it takes is an accidental photo of my secret 12 words, for my satoshis to get compromised. Or there is no alternative, if I lose my private key. Real world banks have ample ways of addressing the identity and tend to offer more robust possession safety.
+ - I have not seen that analogy on HN, thankfully, but its there every where. Yesterday, I saw a respected VC making it on LinkedIn.
That's absolutely true but consider this: early adopters always have an advantage, in fact just being born earlier than someone else gives you an advantage. Family wealth, real estate ownership, rent seeking, tenure and so on are all linked because of this.
Largely from the same people who complain most loudly about inequality. You can lead the horse to water, but you can't make it drink...
Explain please how it would be possible to create something like bitcoin which does not in some way or other favor early adopters over later ones, I really can't see it so this is a genuine question. Not 'pre-mining' is roughly equal to simply not adopting it at all. I see it analogous to a founder not believing in their product to the point that they will not use it. Of course 'Satoshi' could have not pre-mined as much but who is to say whether those coins are even accessible today?
And anybody that joined in later than that already lost that early adopters advantage compared to those that joined earlier.
Which probably means that (wild hyperbolic assumption following) if you haven't done anything with it so far you'd look at me and my miserly number of coins as an 'early adopter' whereas I was - and still am - pretty skeptical about bitcoins long term viability.
I didn‘t say that there wouldn‘t be any favoring towards early adopters... a „better system“ will by definition always favor early adopters at least through efficiency gains accrued through the usage of the system over users who have not yet adopted. BUT bitcoin is crazy in terms of „value“ increase that is not related to any real gains in practice. People buy tokens because people invest money to find tokens because people buy tokens. And because everyone seems to be „making money“ from that things just continue... It‘s like with the rat who can control its own cocain supply...
So what I meant to say is - this specific system design is madness!
DLT in general is very interesting and I am playing around with some ideas regarding currency pegged tokens that increase in value if empirically verifiable achievments/improvements have been made. The goal is to create common-interest communities that are rewarded for realizing real-life impacts. So even people not participating profit. People who join in profit a little more. The goal is to have sustainable growth and predictable prices.
With a proper 12-word phrase, each is randomly chosen from a list of 2048 words for 11 bits of entropy per word. That's 132 bits of entropy, which is not crackable. (With a 24-word phrase you subtract 8 bits for a checksum; I'm not sure about the 12-word format, but 124 bits of entropy isn't crackable either.)
Not really; it only serves to validate the beliefs of people who already agreed with the basic premise that money is something that can exist without central authority. That view was already common long before the Bitcoin paper. Plenty of libertarians believe that money is an emergent phenomenon of free markets, something which arises on its own as the market converges on a common currency as its medium of exchange.
On the other hand, if you are aligned with the mainstream of economics, the entire premise of the paper is easily dismissed. In that view, money can never be separated from banks, the paper is basically nonsense.
let me fix that for you: "Money is an emergent phenomenon of markets, markets are a fundamental feature of libertarianism, therefore money has everything to do with libertarianism."
So, did banks invent gold? Or did gold give rise to banks?
How can banks even exist in the first place unless we already have a common medium of exchange (gold), which can deposited into said banks?
The problem arises when depositors can’t redeem their medium of exchange for the commodities they originally deposited, or something of equivalent value.
By the way, I’m convinced Bitcoin will not function without credit instruments, just like was the case with gold. I’d argue there’s a huge difference between redeemable and irredeemable credit instruments, though. The latter being an artifact of government regulation.
Sort of; at that time it the boundaries were less clearly defined between what was governmental and what was private. The basic economic structure was for a large temple to store the various goods people produced, and to give the goods out to people as necessary. For example, a farmer would deposit grain, and the grain would be redistributed throughout the city-state; the farmer would receive other things from the temple, like clothes and tools. The record-keeping served two purposes: to keep track of what was available for distribution, and to keep track of who was contributing what. This was the "palace economy:"
The bible makes reference to such a system in the story of Joseph (which is ancient enough that palace economies still existed when the story was first written), who was the administrator of such a system in Egypt:
"I assume people voluntarily deposited commodities in exchange for a common medium of exchange."
Not originally and not universally. It was more like a system of 100% taxation in some of the early palace economies, where everyone deposited everything they produced with the temple, and then received things as they were needed. You were basically not allowed to live in the city without contributing something (he who does not work shall not eat), though a person could always work for the temple itself e.g. as a sacred prostitute. Of course the specific laws and economic organization varied from city to city, and plenty of people lived far outside the cities and had their own ways to manage goods; the specific details varied with different places and periods of time.
What you received for your deposit was often just an update to the temple's ledgers clearing a debt you owed the temple (i.e. indicating you paid your taxes; often referred to as "offerings" in the biblical legal code) and possibly offset future taxes. If you were unable to make good on that obligation, your land could be seized and you could become a slave until the king declared a general amnesty (not uncommon in the ancient world; the biblical legal code requires slaves to be given amnesty after 7 years of service, and a similar amnesty provision is in the code of Hammurabi). The story of Joseph also indicates that this exact scenario had played out under Joseph's administration in Egypt: the farmers were forced to turn their lands over to the government during a famine (I am not suggesting that the bible is historical; rather, in ancient Israel at the time that story was written, people were familiar with the situation).
As the economies became better developed and the scale increased, money (i.e. a single unit of account that serves as a common medium of exchange) and markets (i.e. trade between inhabitants of the same city) began to replace the temple economy system, at which point private banking enterprises became more clearly defined. For example:
You can use this "nonsense" money right now. And nothing that any economist says about it can stop you.
PS. Every standard sized bitcoin transaction bar the past three days (and those will too), that people paid over 5c for has been committed to the blockchain.
Oh wait, no it didn't.
How's education costing these days, anyway? Healthcare?
If the person from Europe comes to US, goes to McDonald's, buys a meal whose price is denominated in USD with his European credit card and tells me he made the purchase with Euro, I would consider that a false statement. To me, he made the purchase in USD, his credit card company just will make the FX conversion for him and accept EUR from him when he pays his credit card bill.
Converting BTC to fiat currency on the spot is not really the same thing as using Bitcoin to pay your bills, any more than selling some shares of stock and using the money to buy a house is the same thing as buying a house using shares of stock.
People think that banks hold their money: they don't. The bank simply owes you your money but they don't hold it for you. What you get in return for your money is a statement from the bank what debt they owe you and a device to convert that debt into goods whenever you feel like it. That device is not the same as the underlying money, it is merely a proxy for your debt.
Which you'd find out about in a hurry if your bank ever went under and your card stopped to work.
All the cards I've seen when I looked into it a bit ago converted into fiat at the time of charging the card with BTC (ie, you send BTC, that got converted into fiat immediately (at pretty mediocre rates), and then you could use that fiat to purchase stuff or withdraw cash (at pretty mediocre rates, again)).
All the remarks about the skyrocketing fees can be cut short by pointing out that Bitcoin Cash (which is much closer to the Bitcoin described in the white paper than Bitcoin Segwit [BTC]) doesn't have this problem. Just like Satoshi Nakamoto said that the block size limit could be raised once blocks started to get full, the developers of the Bitcoin Cash software also say the current max. block size of 8 MB can be raised if the blocks get full.
Look at the price. Going bananas.
Not sure there's any response possible for that one. "I don't know how it works, but I think it's dumb."
> Now the transaction fees are exorbitant.
Every standard sized bitcoin transaction bar the past three days (and those will too), that people paid over 5c for has been committed to the blockchain.
Replace by fee is a thing, as long as the tx is unconfirmed it could be replaced. You're effectively saying the wait time is now 3 days unless you want to pay a fee of several dollars. So that rules out most transactions.
How do you pay for anything given those restrictions?
Then you don't understand how bitcoin works, so it's probably best you refrain from commenting on bitcoin architecture.
Lightning network hasn't been rolled out yet. It has nothing to do with our conversation.
(And of course, if I can pay my taxes and mortgage, how can anyone claim to have removed the central authority from money? Just like the gold standard, nothing would prevent a government from changing its mind about whether or not to accept Bitcoin for tax payments.)
Like I said, if you already believe that money can exist without a central authority, Bitcoin simply serves as validation. Otherwise it does not really change anything, because if you accept mainstream views of money, then the premise of Bitcoin makes no sense at all.
You think Bitcoin is a decentralized store of value? Tell that to all those people whining about the Mtgox bankruptcy proceeding, which is being resolved by paying for the lost BTC according to the price in Yen at the time Mtgox declared bankruptcy which is a tiny fraction of the current prices. When push comes to shove the "value" being stored is measured in fiat currency, with all its associated central authorities.
That is a gross misrepresentation and a misunderstanding of the point of a decentralized store of value. "All those people whining about the Mtgox bankruptcy proceeding" were not using a decentralized store of value. They were using a centralized broker that handled things for them. If they kept their own private keys and managed their coins directly, in a decentralized way, they would be still whole today.
Not sure what your point is, dollars(cash) can be stolen as well.
In other words, even if you think Bitcoin acts as a "store of value," that still does not make it "money" according to the law. You can have 1BTC or 100BTC, but the law is only concerned with the monetary (i.e. fiat currency) value at some particular time (not necessarily right now).
That belief structure is being challenged as we speak.
> Tell that to all those people whining about the Mtgox bankruptcy proceeding
The only thing that proved, is that you can't trust a bank.
Reading history is fun and can help one understand the present. I'd highly recommend it. "Debt: The first 5000 years" is a great book and a good start at trying to understand what money is/has been.
In itself, that always existed: it's called gold and gems. It's the most primitive store of value ever- modern economies were born when we went past it.
Name-calling cryptocurrencies "primitive" when they're clearly not doesn't lend a lot of weight to your argument.
> Name-calling cryptocurrencies "primitive"
I called gold primitive as a currency. And made an argument for bitcoin (specifically) being similar to gold.
Edit: btw, gold 500 years ago had the same exact property of bitcoin today: it was immediately transferable to anybody you were in contact with and could buy goods from. That didn't make it better.
not necessarily related to this thread.
for you own good. this is straight from satoshi. I know you hate him. I don't care.
If there is something Satoshi Nakamoto didn't seem to understand, is money. He designed a system that, being capped to a max amount of units, is intrinsically deflationary, and thus cannot serve as money. You don't transact with something that was worth x last year and 2x this year (not to mention 10k last week and 17k this week), it's just dumb.
It is hard getting out of the inflationary currency mind-set, I recognize that.
> it's just dumb.
It's great. The money put on my debit card card a few months ago means that the beers I buy today are 1/3 of the price of what they were relative to the time the money was put on the card. And you know what's better than beer? Good beer on special.
(be sure to play around with the "inflation adjusted" checkbox)
For that matter, would you even buy beer now, when you could instead invest the money risk-free in US govt. bonds so you could buy more beer in future?
However, with technological items there was always another side: the new ones were so much better than our current ones, ours were actually getting old faster, and we were driven to buy. The same won't happen with the other goods on the market.
The interest of gov bonds or of any other financial instrument afaik represents (and is proportional to) a risk of not getting repaid.
But you still purchased it eventually. In that sense a deflationary currency might change the balance of consumer spending vs saving in favour of more saving, but that doesn't mean a continuous downwards spiral in spending, it could just be a new equilibrium.
>Imagine how companies loved that, and imagine extending it to just everything, from food to housing.
Personally I'd absolutely love if house prices halved every year, as at the rate they're currently increasing it'll be a long time before I could afford even a tiny apartment anywhere near where I work.
>However, with technological items there was always another side: the new ones were so much better than our current ones, ours were actually getting old faster, and we were driven to buy. The same won't happen with the other goods on the market.
Would it be bad thing if it did happen to other goods on the market? If e.g. a 2005 car was better than a 2000 car to the same degree that a 2005 computer was better than a 2000 computer.
>The interest of gov bonds or of any other financial instrument afaik represents (and is proportional to) a risk of not getting repaid.
I was referring to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk-free_interest_rate : "In practice, to infer the risk-free interest rate in a particular situation, a risk-free bond is usually chosen—that is, one issued by a government or agency whose risks of default are so low as to be negligible."
For the reasons I explained, and that apply only to a small subset of goods.
> Would it be bad thing if it did happen to other goods on the market?
That is definitely not decided by the currency.
> risks of default are so low as to be negligible
Those have also negligible interest rates, that is, ones that only repay you of the inconvenience of not spending your money now. You know, there's also a non negligible risk that you'll die before you get your money back.
You explain the importance of monetary policy, why the gold standard is problematic, why this means Bitcoin will not replace modern currencies, yet they don't really hear. They just don't like "The System" and want to subvert it.
Bitcoin is great, but it will not change 'the system'. It is a novel and ingenious asset, nothing more.
Gold has existed for thousands of years, surely this commonly accepted idea is based on more than one or two heavily flawed data-points.
Things do not endure merely because some social engineer has a tortured explanation for them he trots out at every opportunity to justify the construct.
Bitcoin is that systems reckoning.
Edit: do we know if economies really behave like this under these conditions? Are we really using a scientific approach on this? Or are we holding these models as divine truth?
The relationship between productivity plus inflation (both measurable) and economic growth is similar. It’s the bedrock of modern macroeconomic theory, which has largely been successful in both explaining and predicting the effect macro policy has on economic growth. The history of North American and Western European economies after going off the gold standard, and asian and Eastern Europe economies more recently all show these same correlations. Outside of external influence, economies which stray outside of the ideal parameters end up either stagnating (lack of investment) or experience dramatic boom-bust cycles (excessive poor investments). I’m on mobile but there’s a fair number of reports by Fed and other central banks justifying their choice of interest rate based on historical examples, and with the purpose of achieving certain productivity (capital investment) and price inflation (money supply). You could also pick up just about any macroeconomics textbook and chase the footnotes and references or spend some time on Google scholar.
So what you're saying is that it's all based on one data point, the second world-war. Gold existed for thousands of years, why is this incredibly bizarre period of history used as a proof of anything about the gold-standard?
Even worse, the gold standard wouldn't have collapsed if it weren't for the widespread use of fractional reserves banking, along with many government policies at the time that significantly worsened the situation.
The 40's, 50's and 60's were a period of unprecedented growth for the US, which was on the gold standard during that whole period, but no one tries to claim that the gold standard was responsible for that.
Decentralized can have many meanings. What is important is that you can transact with anyone without a third party having any say. For that 99% of all coins could be in the hands of a single person as long as there would be enough left for others to use.
> Add this to the obvious fact that the vast majority of new bitcoins mined are from china, which due to the scale of processing power now has a monopoly due to capital barriers
As long as they do not collude to destroy or disrupt the network it has no relevance at all.
> This has become nothing more than a pyramid scheme that adds no value whatsoever to the world. Not cryptocurrency as an idea, but bitcoin's current iteration and implementation.
As Bitcoin is practically useless due to high fees and congestion, I agree. But not because the reasons you gave.
I understand the premise of decentralised transactions, it's just that if the value of the currency can be manipulated by small group, it is not removing the need for trust, just shifting it...
> As long as they do not collude to destroy or disrupt the network it has no relevance at all.
I thought the point of decentralisation was to remove the need to trust others...
> As Bitcoin is practically useless due to high fees and congestion, I agree. But not because the reasons you gave.
AGREE! 7tps vs Visas 4,000tps with a peak capacity of 56,000 tps...
I think there's different aspects to "manipulated".
Large holders or exchanges can always manipulate the price, this is true for cryptocurrencies, the stock market and other things as well. Cryptocurrencies is however much less mature and more easily manipulated, but I foresee it to stabilize in the years to come.
If we're thinking of the miners to manipulate the coin I think the real genius of Bitcoin is they are heavily incentivized not to. All miners are heavily invested in Bitcoin's success so it's in their best interest not to destroy Bitcoin's value.
> I thought the point of decentralisation was to remove the need to trust others...
To be clear: what miners can do if they collude is try to revert transactions or block new transactions. If this happens it would be obvious and Bitcoin's value would be severely damaged.
There is trust yes, but it's more trust in the incentives behind Bitcoin than to specific miners themselves.
Lightning Network will far exceed 56,000 tps.
I disagree here. Gold is very expensive to get into and out of on a percentage basis, also requires careful storage, and is more difficult to exchange (manual pickup/delivery or insured registered mail). And yet it is worth eight trillion dollars.
In addition, believing that Bitcoin is dead for transactional uses because of temporary issues may be a mistake. It is simply software after all, and there are now hundreds of billions of reasons for the developers and users to get it right. My thought is that the alt-coins are simply testing “improvements” to the core technology, and if any updates are sufficiently proven and begin to threaten Bitcoin they will simply be stolen by Bitcoin’s users and eventually co-opt the alt-coin’s value due to Metcalfe’s law.
The problem is uncertainty if your transaction goes through, because it's practically impossible to predict if the fee you just paid will be enough, and that Bitcoin cannot support more users.
Gold does not have these issues. Gold also has other usage but what is the use of Bitcoin if you cannot move it?
> In addition, believing that Bitcoin is dead for transactional uses because of temporary issues may be a mistake.
Agree. I should say that Bitcoin is practically useless right now when the fees and confirmation times are skyrocketing.
This is because you're not only competeing against the transactions in the mempool but also against future transactions which may enter after you make your transcation and before more blocks are found.
The idea that money should be distributed more broadly than 1000 people controlling 40% of it sounds really nice, but it is missing the level of formalism that Bitcoin brings to the question of money.
Haha. Where do you get that? If a random guy says you so, don't believe in him.
You can pretty easily tell which cryptographers read the whitepaper and which ones did not. :)
If only I had given up “just a few hours” back in 2009...
Put another way, if you had sold your desktop and invested all the proceeds in Amazon stock in 1997, and held that stock until now, you would have a 66000% return; basically you would have become a millionaire by now. Of course you would have had to held those shares through two big market crashes and the recessions that followed.
On the other hand, how could anyone have known that 20 years ago Amazon was going to be the winner? You might have invested all the proceeds in some company that did not survive the dot-com crash. Likewise, in 2009 most people doubted Bitcoin; even today there is plenty of doubt about the long-term prospects. There is no point in kicking yourself over a failure to invest in a big winner, especially when that winner defies all the wisdom on valuations.
Nobody knows what the future fortunes of any venture will be, anyone who claims to have known the future success of Bitcoin all along is lying, or they would have sold their blood and worldly possessions to snag as many coins as humanly possible in anticipation.
They frequently seem so obvious after-the-fact, like "how did we miss this?" Like, here, stated in just a few pages, is an idea that so many smart people have been chasing after for years. And it's presented so well that it seems intuitive, when in reality it was a very difficult challenge.
If anyone is wondering, the answer is that the academics had blinders on in their search for a cryptographic solution to the problem of decentralized transaction ordering, an impossible thing. Satoshi's solution is to accept that impossibility and use economic incentives to achieve eventual consensus instead, and it turns out eventual consensus is good enough.
There was also some work on hashcash money, but it made the economically naive and inaccurate assumption that value of the currency must be linked to the cost of production, which is also explicitly not the case in bitcoin.
Reality check: nothing conclusive has been proven yet.
IFF we get to the VISA network level of activity, then it has "turned out" to be "good enough".
Less computational energy and the least amount if users produced the most coins (for minimal external capital input).
Satoshi could have used a linear curve anticipating network growth matching minting and computational increase, but instead choose to exploit late adopters.
Early adopters will attempt to psychologically exploit new users by selling their asset for more than the cost of production and acquisition.
This has directly created the situation where utility is not in use but in exploitation of passing the hot potato to greater fools.
ecash should not exploit new users.
Giving an award for Bitcoin right now would seem more like giving an award to the financial institutions that created securitized loan products before the housing crisis. Right now it seems more like a novelty technology that hasn't yet made itself relevant for long-term innovation except to generate excitement about it.
And you underestimate that you still can't give someone an award who does not exist to receive it.
> And you underestimate that you still can't give someone an award who does not exist to receive it.
Which is what baffles me. I thought we should be honouring ideas and the people who created/discovered them (whether or not they exist to receive the award). It's weird that people get more precedence over ideas. What's worse is that the prize isn't awarded posthumously as well!
It would justify a Nobel in software engineering, not economics.
If there was no new economics in Bitcoin, can you explain why the paper would be nominated for Nobel Prize for Economics in the first place? https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/satoshi-nakamoto-nomina...
It's quite clear that the nomination was rejected on flimsy grounds of not awarding the Prize for "unknown people" because there is no such "precedence".
The main innovation was the combination of ledgers with proof of work to prevent Sybil attacks in the face of a system with unidentified participants.
If you've studied electronic cash systems and/or cryptographic systems before, the paper is quite easy to read. Otherwise it's a challenge. At least that's what I found.
Here's a companion article that fills in some of the blanks.
There's plenty of people who understand the blockchain quite well who have a pretty ... imaginative understanding of monetary theory.
The way bitcoin was approached seemed to ignore the idea that the boom/bust cycle is mitigated through regulation and control. It isn't eliminated, but instead dampened. While economic miracles and bull runs seem great, if they are followed by devastating crashes, the market instability and "whiplash effect" of this occurring in rapid succession can slow attempts at economic recovery at best, and spark revolutions at worst. Austrian economists love the idea of "letting the chips fall where they may", but that reductive thinking ignores the social and political upheaval that the previous centuries have taught us result from instability.
The financial safeguards that we've been putting in (and unfortunately removing over the past 30-40 years) are there for a reason.
There are also plausible-sounding arguments to be made in the opposite direction: Fractional reserve banking allows money to be created and destroyed adaptively to support the economy, which makes the economy run more smoothly overall.
Do you see how stupid what you are saying is yet?
You have CBOE offering futures on it. The prez of JPMC pro bitcoin. You have so many exchanges.
This ain't the era of mtgox, $10m pizzas and running your own full bitcoin node and joining a mining pool.
Bitcoin is out of it's infancy.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, famously called Bitcoin "a fraud" that "won't end well" and is "worse than tulip bulbs."
You must be thinking of something/someone else?
The futures are a nice touch, but they are cash settled so they will drift from spot.
We still do not have a spot market with swaps from companies you can trust.
Due to this, negative exposure is still difficult to replicate, hence why some brokers will not offer short side on the futures.
I could go on about the summations and other advanced math symbolics in this paper but you seem very out of touch with the knowledge base of most people so I'm not sure it matters.
A slightly more apples-to-apples comparison: would it make sense for you to become an early investor in a new futures exchange, claiming it'll do "a new kind of futures trading", without having read any papers or textbooks on futures trading?
Actually though, the principles behind refrigeration are also refreshingly simple.
1. Compress gas (it heats up as a consequence.)
2. Expose the warm air to the atmosphere (it cools down.)
3. Decompress gas (it cools down even more.)
4. Expose cold gas to the area to cool.
Seriously went over your list expecting to find something I didn't know - but I can explain them all, without needing to look up wikipedia.
I may read too much.
Knowing how something works cannot be a prerequisite to using it. That is one of the purposes of division of labor in society.
I have control of my money and bitcoin is within the realm of learnability, so I'd say it should be required. It is intimate knowledge of a protocol with many working parts that will have a direct effect on your earnings.
Prove me wrong by spending, lending or investing your Bitcoins.
The reason being is that the owners of Bitcoin.org are actively trying to rewrite the white paper even against the larger community’s wishes. I believe sometime in the near future the owners will go ahead with their plans anyways as they seem to do that when it comes to other issues too.
SHA-256 could be more broken than SHA-1 and it would still serve perfectly well for mining.
If you don't reuse addresses then even if ECDSA is broken then your coins are still safe. And ECDSA being broken is pretty much the darkest scenario. In which case it can simply be replaced with something else starting at specific block.
RIPEMD-160 just hides your public key.
Sure, but the block header only commits to the double-SHA256 hash tree of transactions. If SHA-2 was broken I could create a single block header that commits to two different valid histories, allowing arbitrary double-spends and irreconcilable divergent views of the network.
Not to mention being able to spend anyone's coins by finding alternate pub keys or hashes that collide with their committed p2pkh or p2sh outputs.
I'd say that's pretty broken.
Regarding the second one, google bitcoin address collision, it was repeated so many times with great analogies that I'm not going to try to do it here yet another time.
All arguments about collision and preimage resistance are based on the assumption of SHA-2 doing what we think it does. A catastrophic break of SHA-2 would destroy the bitcoin ledger.
The FUD surrounding this is built upon a poor understanding of how these algorithms are implemented in Bitcoin.
It does happen that two blocks are found at nearly the same time, before adjustments can be made. In those cases one of the two ends up getting 'orphaned', it's relatively rare compared to normal blocks though.
Now, probabilistically, you'd occasionally get lucky and get the full (big) mining reward, in proportion to your fraction of total hash power.
The alternative is that you join a mining pool, and then receive the same amount (in expectation), minus the pool fee, but with much smaller variance, as the larger pool will much more frequently get lucky and then distribute the reward (minus the pool fee) to the contributors in proportion to their hash power.
But either way, your expected reward will be approximately the same, whether or not you work in a pool (modulo the pool fee), it's just whether you get a large amount very rarely or a small amount very often.
Back to low fees, on chain scaling, and the future of p2p cash!
While a trust free payment mechanism sounds wonderful, this implementation cannot succeed in the real world. In my mind proof-of-work is already an ecological disaster. As long as the price of bitcoin goes up, there is an incentive for miners to commit more energy and resources - yet those resources do not increase productivity. Whether there is 1 transaction or 200k, Megawatts are wasted to mine that block. I doubt 99% of people getting into Bitcoin have a remote understanding of how this works. This concerns me far more than the threat of upending governments - my biggest fear is in fact that governments will instead choose to adopt this technology because they would love the ability to track the history of every transaction.
While there are several proposed solutions to many of bitcoins weaknesses, we live in the real world, and the real world goes where the money is. While bitcoin is decentralized in design, in reality, it is controlled by a few mining factions who ultimately control what code enhancements get adopted and how the game is played. Why would they want to increase the block-size, when a smaller block will lead to greater fees? Running a full node is getting expensive, and soon, only the deep pockets will be left to guard.
People will never get bitcoin. It's simply too confusing for the average person. The user experience is a disaster. You're telling me once I buy bitcoin, I'm supposed to transfer it to a hardware wallet? What's a hardware wallet? Wait, so if I accidentally am off by one character in the address I sent money too it's gone forever? There's no one I can call? Bitcoin should never have been any more than just a novelty for the technically inclined, or a technology used for something other than a currency. It's why I can't stand Coinbase - they are lining up the naive (and greedy) masses into the slaughterhouse.
I have non-technical friends who do not understand that their bitcoin is not backed by anything. They do not understand that the money they put in, was immediately taken out by someone else, and that the price of bitcoin is just a funny number. The $XXX billion dollar market cap is fiction. Owning a bitcoin does not give you claim to the output of some productive asset like a stock would. Unfortunately, history tells us we're in the early innings. The real dumb money is just getting in the door. But when the music stops, and the evangelists have squeezed enough out of this lemon, that funny number will go back to zero. And a lot of people who couldn't afford it will get really hurt.
I'm confident that I could be making a killing in bitcoin right now. But it's not about the money for me - my conscience just keeps saying stay away. I really hope either I've completely got it wrong or bitcoin just dies soon.
Ecological concerns? A global, nacent value exchange system uses a little more than the total electricity of holiday lights. In fact many miners use cheap unused energy that would be otherwise costly to build infrastructure to sell normally.
Too confusing? Seems familiar. Here's a video from 1994 with some talk show hosts confused about 'internet'. Just watch this, please.
Hydro may be cheap for now, but does that make it okay? If Bitcoin keeps going up, at some point we'll exhaust those more convenient resources. The comparison to holiday lights is misleading because I never said that wasn't bad for the environment either. I'm not sure I can trust a site like icenter.co given it appears pro-bitcoin, but many people are analyzing the environmental impact of bitcoin and it's not negligible and only growing. You're right, it's nascent, and that's the scary part given how inefficient it is.
I stand by too confusing, especially when it comes to financial products. Try to explain proof-of-work to a non-technical person in less than 30 minutes. Explain hard-forks, segwit2, lightning network, double-spend, network attacks, and why the recommendation is to never leave your bitcoin on an exchange.
Our current system of money and banking isn't great, but this is not an improvement.
Edit: Now you've sent me down this other rabbit whole of educating myself on China's Hydro power. China's overbuilding of Dams may be in itself be a big problem (methane release, destruction of biodiversity, 300k deaths). I'd hate for Bitcoins popularity to contribute to the demand side of this equation.
From where I stand, there is zero reason that crypto-currency couldn’t be the backbone of all money in a few decades. It’s starting to feel inevitable.
So it's highly risky to cite Bitcoin White Paper from this site, if you wanna read untampered version.
Satoshi extensively detailed the ability of participants in the Bitcoin network to use light clients, that don't fully validate the blockchain, and predicted that the vast majority of people would use such clients in the future.
The vision of Bitcoin Core that you're promoting totally contradicts the one promulgated in the Bitcoin white paper and further descriptions provided by Satoshi.
The idea of the vast majority of people not being able to hold their own private keys, because transaction fees are so high, contradicts several core features of Bitcoin that are described in the white paper.
No one was discussing the Core implementation of Bitcoin. Why do you bring it up. OP was discussing the engineering trade offs associated with engineering a blockchain.
>The idea if the vast majority of people not unable to hold their own private keys, because transaction fees...
Key custody and transaction fees have nothing to do with each other. I believe you’re referring to UTXO custody, which is influenced by fees. Miners aren’t altruistic, they won’t hash for free. Choose security and fees or no chain-tip extension / double spending is economically feasible.
>>Key custody and transaction fees have nothing to do with each other.
What are you talking about? They have everything to do with each other. If the average tx fee is $100, you will not be able to have bitcoin sent to your own private key unless you are handling large amounts of value - amounts that are way beyond what the vast majority of the world population deals with.
>>Miners aren’t altruistic, they won’t hash for free.
What does this have to do with having control over your own private key? You're changing the subject instead of addressing the fact that the Bitcoin Core idea of $100 transaction fees means the vast majority of the world population will have to rely on trusted third parties to control the private keys to their wealth, which totally contradicts the purpose of Bitcoin as described in the white paper.
>They have everything to do with each other.
You said key custody has to do with fees, which it does not. The fee market does not influence, at all, how hard or easy it is to maintain custody of keys on a blockchain. Again fees do influence the cost of updating the UXTO set. You're confusing the two terms.
>$100 transaction fees means the vast majority of the world population will have to rely on trusted third parties to control the private keys to their wealth
People pay the fees that they are willing to pay. Your position reminds me of the Yogi-ism "Nobody Goes There Anymore, It's Too Crowded". Are you arguing that people are too stupid to know how much fees they're willing to pay? Again, miners will not hash for free. If users want low fees and low security, they got what they wanted by forking off to bcash. People who wanted high security and high fees, they got what they wanted by sticking the legacy consensus rules. What is exactly the problem with this paradigm?
I had every right to bring up this debate since his argument very clearly was taking a side in it.
>>You said key custody has to do with fees, which it does not. The fee market does not influence, at all, how hard or easy it is to maintain custody of keys on a blockchain.
I just explained how it does. You didn't address my points. You're denying what common sense says is undeniably true, to promote a vision of Bitcoin where the vast majority of the world don't have private keys to their own Bitcoin wealth, because only a tiny portion of the world population can access the blockchain with any frequency.
>>People pay the fees that they are willing to pay. Your position reminds me of the Yogi-ism "Nobody Goes There Anymore, It's Too Crowded".
That's not even a point. "People pay the fees that they are willing to pay" is tautological. As fees increase, the portion of the population that can afford to access the blockchain shrinks. No amount of spin is going to conceal the fact that a 1-MB block size limit ensures mass adoption of Bitcoin, with Bitcoin remaining an affordable and peer-to-peer electronic cash, is impossible, and furthermore, that it betrays the original vision for Bitcoin as described in the white paper and Satoshi's other writings.
There is nothing stopping anyone from tweaking consensus rules to their liking. This is what the bcash team did. Sounds like you're mad at people who didn't adopt bcash.
If users want low fees and low security, they got what they wanted by forking off to bcash. People who wanted high security and high fees, they got what they wanted by sticking the legacy consensus rules. What is exactly the problem with this paradigm?
If you don't run your own node, you need to trust a 3rd party to transact with the blockchain, because you require someone elses node in order to record a bitcoin transaction. So you are, by definition, not a peer, because you are not equal to a person who runs a node, because you need to trust a 3rd party.
Whitepaper, section 1, end of last paragraph...
"The system is secure as long as honest nodes collectively control more CPU power than any cooperating group of attacker nodes."
If that sentence is broken, like you give as an example that would fool an spv wallet, then by definition bitcoin is not secure.
Are you explaining your definition of a trust requirement in a trustless protocol?
> by definition bitcoin is not secure.
It is not secure if you use your understanding of how bitcoin works. Which, as we've demonstrated with the four failed fork attempts, is not rooted in reality.
You also continue to sidestep the fact that Bitcoin Core's vision of letting transaction fees rise to astronomical levels with growing usage of the blockchain is going to mean the vast majority of the world population will have to trust other parties to hold their private keys, which is a much greater reliance on trusted third parties than polling random nodes for SPV proofs, as required when running a light client, which still let's the user control their own private key.
What do you mean core? Core doesn't run my node. I do. If you can't convince the peers in bitcoin to run your node client, you don't have a solution. I know this, because I do run a node, and I am a peer in peer-to-peer cash. And I, personally, have rejected your scalability plans, because I, personally, being a peer in peer-to-peer cash, have rejected your node client. I was not happy with your security model, and therefore I, with all of the other bitcoin peers, rejected it. Which is why bitcoin remains bitcoin, and failed fork after failed fork attempts remain the failed fork attempts. Because you don't have enough peers willing to follow your consensus change.
Bitcoin nakamoto consensus in action. It is a beautiful thing.
>>As such, the verification is reliable as long as honest nodes control the network, but is more vulnerable if the network is overpowered by an attacker. While network nodes can verify
transactions for themselves, the simplified method can be fooled by an attacker's fabricated transactions for as long as the attacker can continue to overpower the network. One strategy to protect against this would be to accept alerts from network nodes when they detect an invalid block, prompting the user's software to download the full block and alerted transactions to confirm the inconsistency. Businesses that receive frequent payments will probably still want to
run their own nodes for more independent security and quicker verification.
While you claim that light clients betray the vision of Satoshi, based on totally unsubstantiated claims about what Satoshi meant by a light client, that are contradicted by several pieces of evidence (e.g. Satoshi communicating with Mike Hearn about Hearn's implementation of the SPV light client concept, without once claiming that his implementation fell short of Satoshi's idea of a light client, and while continuing to promote light clients on Bitcoin talk, like in this instance: http://satoshi.nakamotoinstitute.org/posts/bitcointalk/345/), you promote a future where the vast majority of the world have zero control over their own wealth, because they can't economically control their own private keys.
This part of the white paper is broken. Satoshi was wrong. Accepting unverifiable "alerts" from network peers as a trigger for doing large amounts of computation is a significant DoS vulnerability.
For this sort of scheme to work you would have a small-to-transmit, easy-to-verify proof of the invalidity of a block. (Called a "fraud proof" among developers who have looked at this.) Bitcoin protocol as specified by Satoshi does not allow for the full range of fraud proofs necessary to support this sort of DoS-resistant lite node implementation.
> one that is of equal standing with another : equal
If you aren't running a node, you're not equal, and therefore, by definition, not a peer.
What problem do you have with people running the blockchain they prefer?
This is incorrect and plain wrong. Trusted party only exists in Ethereum, not in Bitcoin. You are not trusting anyone when you transact in Bitcoin, there is distributed consensus. How is distributed consensus trusting a third party?
I don't think there are any Satoshi quotes that definitely prove what he intended.
But there are some quotes of him talking about data centers and the like.
The miners vs nodes vs blocksize/scaling debate just wasn't a thing that anyone was thinking about back then.
[Nodes] vote with their CPU power, expressing their acceptance of
valid blocks by working on extending them and rejecting invalid blocks by refusing to work on
them. Any needed rules and incentives can be enforced with this consensus mechanism.
* Another phenomenon he didn't imagine was mining pools, which drastically changed the dynamics of mining.
But that's an interesting point re mining pools. Do you have any links to more information about how they drastically changed dynamics?
Or, perhaps, you don't actually know how bitcoin works, and therefore you can't explain how miner 'support' disappeared, as soon as it came time to decide whether they wanted to be bitcoin miners, or become alt-coin miners? You know, given that the nodes police and enforce consensus in bitcoin 'n all. Miners had a choice. Do what you're told, and mine according to node consensus rules, or don't get paid in bitcoin. So they did what they were told.
And here you are, with you still trying to fight a battle you've already lost. Four times. Losing exactly the same way every time. Because even after all of those losses, you still can't figure out why you always lose. Because even after all of those failures, you still don't understand why you lost, because you still don't understand how bitcoin works.
However I image if suddenl 100% of the miners decided 42MM bitcoins is better (because 42), something a lot of users would be opposed to (printing money), things would become 'interesting'.
A standard node will almost never produce a single new block.
For that, you need custom asic or luck.
Yes, see section 5 of the white paper referenced in OP. It is quite clear what "peer" means in the context of Bitcoin. Others are mistaken here.
No. It is only the validation that is important, because it is only the validation that ensures that consensus is maintained between nodes, and valid transactions can be included in the blockchain. Nodes even define the algorithm that miners must use in order to produce valid blocks.
There has been a hard education for people over the past year that have carried an incomplete understanding of how bitcoin works, and that has been encouraged by centralized companies that are attempting to wrest control of bitcoin away from its nodes. There have been four wildly unsuccessful hostile fork attempts (XT/Classic/BU/2x), and two in which alt-coins were forked (BCH/BGLD) from bitcoin in order to attempt to convince people to use their alt-coin instead of bitcoin. All of these attempts have been failures, because all of these attempts have not understood how bitcoin works, and the fact that nodes are the peers in bitcoin, and they police and enforce consensus.
I believe in 2008 Satoshi did not understand the full implications of ASICs or economies of scale. (S)he probably didn't even realize that ASICs existed.
Regardless of the whitepaper, in our modern cyberscape the only way to be certain that the original rules (21m coins, can only spend your own money, etc.) are followed is to be confident that a wide and deep pool of users are verifying them. That is strictly at odds with heavy on-chain scaling.
"At first, most users would run network nodes, but as the
network grows beyond a certain point, it would be left more and more to
specialists with server farms of specialized hardware. A server farm would
only need to have one node on the network and the rest of the LAN connects with
that one node."
Satoshi was well aware of specialized hardware. If the majority of the planet were using bitcoin, it would not be necessary for every user to be a node. It would still be plenty "wide and deep" if businesses were running it. The security of SPV is actually quite good.
"I anticipate there will never be more than 100K nodes, probably less. It will reach an equilibrium where it's not worth it for more nodes to join in. The rest will be lightweight clients, which could be millions.
At equilibrium size, many nodes will be server farms with one or two network nodes that feed the rest of the farm over a LAN."
"The current system where every user is a network node is not the intended configuration for large scale. That would be like every Usenet user runs their own NNTP server. The design supports letting users just be users. The more burden it is to run a node, the fewer nodes there will be. Those few nodes will be big server farms. The rest will be client nodes that only do transactions and don't generate."
This revisionism is a long running and well known war, here is the core political bloc in question actually attempting to justify editing the white paper to push their perspective over reality.
Cancerous stuff. https://github.com/bitcoin-dot-org/bitcoin.org/issues/1904
Every participant in the system has a part to play and has a choice, miners choose which chain to mine and in doing so secure that chain from attack and earn a return, people that run nodes pick the nodes to run based on which chain they believe has the most value, or in the case of miners in order to mine the chain they believe has the most value, spv wallet users transact on the chain they value and pay fees to support the upkeep of it, the simple act of conducting trade with a cryptocurrency gives the entire apparatus basic value, so the people that don't give a damn about any given blockchain and just want to use it to move some completely unrelated asset from a to b also still give the system value, and of course the holders and traders of the actual blockchain assets give the system value and play a part in resolving contentious forks, by evaluating what they see as the market value of a given blockchain asset, forked or otherwise, and profiting or losing based on that insight.
Short of outright theft of a private key, nobody may compel even the smallest user of a blockchain to perform an action that they do not freely wish to undertake, not all the devs writing node software, shills pushing political agendas, or even miners mining blocks in the chain can change that fundamental aspect of the system that keeps it actually properly decentralised. The only way around this is to drive the vast majority of transactions off chain and force most end users to operate through third party intermediaries that manage their actual potential transactions in the system.
Like exactly what core are doing with the lightning network, for example.
So there are nodes, which are peers. And there are people who need nodes for performing bitcoin transactions, and some of those people are miners, and some of them are just making good-ol-fashioned transactions. The correct term is "I am a peer, and I use this node for my transactions, which create blocks". Or "I am a peer, and I use this node for my transactions, which are payments."
Download it for yourself and see.
> There have been four wildly unsuccessful hostile fork attempts (XT/Classic/BU/2x)
These were all upgrade attempts that failed to gain miner support. Calling them "hostile forks" is stupid. The only thing hostile with them is the threat they pose to the developers who do not want to scale Bitcoin on-chain, for whatever reason.
> All of these attempts have been failures, because all of these attempts have not understood how bitcoin works, and the fact that nodes are the peers in bitcoin, and they police and enforce consensus.
No. Spinning up mass nodes in a sybil attack has no relevance.
They failed because they failed to gain enough hash power backing their upgrade plan. This is due to politics and economics.
That's a terrible misunderstanding. If nodes can reach consensus by simply agreeing on transaction validity, then what purpose do you believe miners serve?
The definition of a node is provided in Section 5 of the white paper mentioned in OP. The logic that explains "why you must mine in order to be a peer" is explained in Section 4.
Non-mining nodes are trivial to Sybil, they are "one-IP-one-vote" per Section 4. Only miners are "one-CPU-one-vote." That is why nonminers (what you call "nodes") are not peers to the system, but rather leeches / relays.
According to the white paper, Section 5, a peer is a miner. That has not changed, regardless of attempts to redefine the paper. To be a peer, you MUST contribute proof of work.
Running a non mining node gives you a copy of the blockchain data that you can trust is valid according to the rules you used to validate it. It does not make you a peer.
The only occassion the propagation is valid if you're transferring a transaction from another full node to a miner (or helping to do so). As long as there is any path to do so more nodes do not matter.
All miners are already connected together using high speed channels.
The solution for BTC appears to be off-chain scaling, such as Lightning Network.
The end of mining rewards is beyond our lifetimes, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if there’s a successful hard fork to continue the final 1 Satoshi reward indefinitely.
If it's found that deflationary really won't work, and it's genuinely hurting the usage and adoption of the currency, and it's in the current users of bitcoin's best interest to do so, it can be turned into an inflationary asset.
Flaws can and are fixed in it, and because those changes can't be pushed through by some appointed authority without overwhelming majority from all involved parties, you don't need to worry about this ability to drastically change being unfairly pushed upon you.
Difficulty, transaction costs, competition with other coins (and off-chain networks/sidechains), and the market price of bitcoin will all hopefully & probably settle around an equilibrium that is sufficient to incentivize enough miners necessary to maintain the security of the network.
If the transaction fees aren't high enough to support the current level of mining them some (but not all) miners will drop out (and the "difficulty" will adjust to compensate).
The result is transactions will continue to be processed, but the overall security of the network will be lower.
Lightning transactions will change all of this. By the time we are talking about large lightning transaction commits, we'll be talking about 3rd layer solutions. Bitcoin could be at a reserve currency level, where individual transactions are significant.
I recommend people take a look at the satoshi emails
Confirmed to be real by Mike Hearn Himself
take what this user is saying with a huge grain of salt as I see he has an agenda based on his other comments in this thread. Read the e-mails and decide for yourself.