I think generally, a TTP is going to be more efficient than a system without a TTP. "Trust" at its essence is a shortcut. Without it you have to create a general enforcement mechanism which is going to cost something. E.g., the cost of incenting miners. You can slice it difference ways, but in the end you need the distributed network of nodes to exist and the people who control them to be invested in the continued existence and integrity of the system.
I say "generally" for a reason, because I think it's certainly possible that there are cases where the cost of the third-party is too high or the third-party may not be reliable enough, etc. But generally, it seems to me that blockchain is an inherently inefficient mechanism.
On top of that, the only effective use so far has been to create an investment bubble. Once enough money has been lost on that I think there's a good chance blockchain will get a black eye which will cause people to steer clear even if they may have a use case that's a good fit.
Hmmm, which gives me an idea. Gluten free, Paleo Blockchain.
Another meta-metric I'm watching is for mainstream media and word of mouth to lose interest, ie. once this no longer comes up at all get-togethers with friends and family, it will seem a lot less bubbly to me.
The more I think and read about crypto and blockchain the less practical applications I see.
In practice, you need an account with a "big bank" to buy bitcoin. The recipient also has to have enough technical literacy and resources to safely convert the bitcoin into spendable money, sometimes at a significant markup. The buying power of the funds are also subject to wild fluctuations for as long as it takes the recipient to convert to usable money. Bitcoin is just not practical for this kind of thing.
You can have your auto-driving car to go fill up it's tank or pay someone to service it.You can write a computer program that hires a developer to improve it or a million other things.
Is that true? Surely there is at least one bank with an API? I don't see any fundamental reason there wouldn't or couldn't be. But maybe you're right that this sort of thing just isn't in the DNA of banks, while it's totally up the alley of the blockchain enthusiast programmer community. Still, I wonder: if this were to become a common and important thing, couldn't banks fairly easily add it to the services they offer?
The problem with crypto in general is that it's such a different type of market that the models for figuring out its valuation are wildly speculative at best.
In other words: all I can offer about it not being a bubble anymore is a soft maybe :)
A crash does not necessarily indicates a bubble a crash without recovery does.
To me "true blockchain technology" in the bitcoin sense of the design is open, permission-less and only has a few real applications. The others: Private, permissioned are really just variations of a central database which is replicated multiple places.
Beyond cryptocurrencies? Go on, I'm all ears. I'm always amazed by how often I hear that claim (on HN and elsewhere) and yet nobody seems in a rush to be specific about it.
The only other use case for blockchains I'm aware of that makes sense to me is some sort of IP protection scheme (mentioned in the article too). If you make a discovery you can write down "$me has discovered this and that", hash it and put it into the blockchain. Later you can use it to prove that you actually had that information at that date without needing any trusted peer or institution.
But even then it only works if the chain can't be attacked you still need the currency aspect to motivate miners (or shareholders in a PoW scheme) to protect the chain.
"But that's just a write-only distributed database....with a layer of asymmetric cryptography". Yeah...
It is aggravating when some in the industry try to champion everything as a silver bullet, but it is just as flawed when many instantly veer to being anti-that thing just because.
As an aside, proof-of- schemes are not necessary in many/most alternative blockchain scenarios. The egregious inefficiency of platforms like Bitcoin is not relevant for most other uses.
For some that entry barrier might be a feature :-)
Glad we got that out of the way.
>It is aggravating when some in the industry try to champion everything as a silver bullet, but it is just as flawed when many instantly veer to being anti-that thing just because.
The whole "blockchain tech is here to stay" argument plays into that. I've heard some close friends use it to justify their investments in cryptocurrencies. Surely if everything is going to run on blockchains 10 years from now then surely at least one of the cryptocurrencies in my portfolio is going to be worth a ton then, right?
Maybe let me rephrase my question in an other way: if somebody had asked you 10 years ago to solve the problem you're describing, what would you have replied? "I'm sorry I don't think that technology exists" or "you need some kind of write-only distributed database with a layer of asymmetric cryptography"?
So no, it's not just me being a contrarian naysayer, there are real consequences to all this bullshit and pixie dust surrounding cryptocurrencies. I mean look at the replies for this joke tweet somebody linked elsewhere in the thread: https://twitter.com/MalwareTechBlog/status/93264913325659750...
Note the number of defensive tweets claiming the author doesn't know what they're talking about and how the blockchain is actually great:
>Maybe learn how the technology works before pretending to be a snarky expert. This doesn't make you look smart.
>very funny, but blockchain has some interesting use cases that might make some cros domain and cross org stuff better.
>No one will need/want Blockchain is today's version of no one will need more than 640k RAM.
>Blockchain has applications far beyond just coining it.
>That’s a pretty short sighted way of thinking. Block chain based voting is a really good idea.
Because apparently block chain voting is something that exists.
I like this one too:
> give me an actual current non hypothetical real world use case.
> I'd be more inclined to answer this publicly if I were not actively working on a related project that I am not at liberty to discuss openly
I could go and and on and on. I've gone through pages of this and the only actual use case I see mentioned is:
>Might be useful for monitoring chain of custody for secure documents. Not that that’s a huge use case.
Which I assume is related to the use case I mentioned in my previous comment.
In my experience these types of replies are common on every public discussion of anything criticizing bitcoins or cryptocurrencies.
So yeah, I don't think the bullshit is on my side, and neither is the burden of proof.
* Block chain voting does exist; here's an example of it actively distributing real funds to real projects: https://www.dashcentral.org/budget
* The fact that cryptocurrency prices are volatile does not allow one to draw any kind of inference that either blockchain-based solutions or cryptocurrencies have no future. Was the .com bubble proof that Internet was a waste of time?
* I give a solid use case I'm currently exploring in a comment further down the thread; there are plenty of people out there smarter than I am, so if I have a real use case you can be sure some of those smarter people will come up with something equally valid
* Finally, why are you trying to hard to prove a negative, and what makes you think you are able to foresee the future of a technology better than all the other immensely skilled technologists out there? You can't. Wait a couple years and if you're right you'll get to smirk at all the early adopters. If you're wrong, good luck with the job hunt. If that seems like a rational set of trade-offs to you, all the best.
The rest of us are just busy building solutions as the industry evolves.
1. Regulators need to accept transaction reports, volume is in the hundreds of millions/reports/day so they don't have the technical competency to accept reports themselves
2. 3rd parties ("trade repositories") currently provide this infrastructure but regulators are learning that aggregating data across multiple trade repositories with different implementations is very difficult (particularly where dual-sided reporting across different trade repositories occur!); financial institutions are also ending up having to pay far more than cost to comply with regulations because the trade repositories are profit-driven enterprises
3. A private blockchain (e.g. Quorum and/or maybe Hyperledger's PoEL) solves these problems cleanly:
a. regulators have confidence that market participants are playing by the rules and not manipulating (or submitting) reports after the fact. For those who don't know, there's a lot of incentive to 'fix missing reports' -- consider e.g. Merrill Lynch being fined 34.5m GBP for not reporting just 2 years worth of transactions ; how would a 'distributed database' give regulators confidence when that kind of 'incentive money' is involved in retro-fitting reports?
b. market participants are happy because their highly confidential reporting data can delivered to regulators via simple access controls (even after the fact!) and infrastructure costs are fairly split across market participants in proportion to volume, and the industry effectively "self-regulates" itself (rather than trusting 3rd parties), which is generally an attribute of preferred solutions in the finance industry
You really think people would be talking about "blockchains" if bitcoins wasn't worth thousands of dollars? Is there currently any notable application of this technology beyond cryptocurrencies?
>Further, I gave specific examples
That you immediately dismissed yourself as "just a write-only distributed database....with a layer of asymmetric cryptography".
>you reply with a joke tweet (which, as an aside, no one has any duty or obligation wasting their time replying to
It's true, but they did reply nonetheless, wouldn't have hurt to actually come up with a decent argument while they were at it.
Still, it's really a common pattern in bitcoin discussions in my experience (just say that the author doesn't know what they're talking about without coming with any counterargument). You can find plenty of examples in the comments of this very much non-joke article: https://medium.com/@thedrbits/why-i-also-find-iota-deeply-al...
I could probably come up with other examples but I don't have any duty or obligation to waste my time doing that so...
> then more hand waving.
Who's waving hands at whom in this scenario?
>The rest of us are just busy building solutions as the industry evolves.
Godspeed. I don't have any problem with that. I just wish the discussion around these technologies revolved more around technical arguments than ambiguous terminology.
Academic cryptographers and computer scientists specializing in Byzantine fault-tolerant distributed systems have been working on blockchain technology for several years now - since one Bitcoin was worth merely hundreds of dollars.
To put this gently: you're being very snarky and combative in this thread, but you do not appear to be familiar with the basic academic literature and engineering that has gone into very legitimate blockchain technology research. Obviously there has been an influx of uninformed, trend-following funding recently, but it's a serious mistake to conflate those parties with the totality of work in the field. In fact, I gave two specific examples in a reply to another of your comments.
It's a bit like the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, with people who woke up to cryptocurrency hype thinking that everyone became aware simultaneous with them.
That is the literal definition of a blockchain. In these sorts of arguments people are so desperate to shoot down "Bitcoin" that we end up with a No True Scotsman situation where everyone completely loses sight of the technology.
These seem very closely related at this point. A cryptocurrency bubble seems to be the primary use of blockchain tech so far, and the eye-popping amount of money seemingly involved appears to be the primary driver of interest in the technology.
You can hardly think about one without the other. E.g., suppose you had a great use for blockchain -- say, your book of record/holdings -- along with a great plan to develop and roll a system based on it that had nothing to do with cryptocurrencies.
You'd still have to account for what you plan to do if (when) enough money has been lost on cryptocurrencies that blockchain becomes a dirty word that will kill your system if it because associated with it. Beyond any technical differences, your non-blockchain competitors won't have to convince potential participants that their system's architecture isn't actually some tricky way to rip them off.
A Byzantine fault-tolerant, distributed NTP protocol that does not rely on a trusted third party. That is a concrete, legitimate use case for a blockchain that meaningfully improves through a trustless, permissionless and decentralized system. For example, this could augment Google's RoughTime NTP protocol.
More abstractly, blockchains resolve many hard problems in cryptographic protocols that would otherwise require trusted third parties. There has been nontrivial academic attention for this particular possibility, including support from DARPA and the NSF.
Now you have heard someone making this claim and being specific about it on HN.
Or you could use PGP.
And I wasn't talking about bitcoin specifically either, I'm just doubtful that you could have:
- A completely untrusted distributed "blockchain" style DB
- Which would be fast and scale well enough to enable instant-messaging-style applications
- While being almost completely free to use
Currently Bitcoin can process a few thousand transactions per block, every 10 minutes. In 2015 reddit averaged about 2 million comments every day: https://redditblog.com/2015/12/31/reddit-in-2015/
Of course you may say that you don't want to create reddit, just a small chat with friends but it doesn't matter: your blockchain is only as secure as its worth so if you want trust-less security your only solution is to plug yourself on an existing blockchain OMNI-style. Then if you want your messages to end up on the chain you need to pay more than the competition.
The cryptographic components of PGP which allow for signed messages in the email setting are the same components that would allow for signed messages on a blockchain. But a blockchain protocol can natively support key exchange, symmetric encryption and digital signatures; PGP only natively supports asymmetric encryption and digital signatures.
Further, while email is originally a decentralized protocol, it does not mirror all messages from all email addresses to every other email address across every mail server on the internet. If you were to take PGP, bolt it onto a modified email protocol that requires all mail servers to hold copies of all mail, you'd end up with something substantially the same as a blockchain. You can question the commenter's purpose in wanting all of this, but according to their stated use case, a blockchain actually sounds fairly reasonable from a technical perspective.
Finally, the commenter said that performance concerns were not an issue. But for the sake of correction: they also mentioned Tendermint specifically Tendermint is capable of scaling to high thousands and low tens of thousands of transactions per second.
I'm not sure why you keep talking about Bitcoin when the commenter specifically said they weren't using Bitcoin. That makes half of your comment not applicable to what they're talking about.
A project I'm particularly fond of, having tried it out, is called nano. The whitepaper gets pretty vague at times but is overall an interesting read that I recommend.
Full disclosure: I'm slightly biased in that I do have under 50€ of it that I bought to experiment with.
One thing that the article is missing to discuss is that for a blockchain to truly work there needs to be a reward system for the nodes to participate in the network (basically to cover the cost of this crazy expensive infrastructure). Ie. a cryptocurrency that can be mined.
I always thought that any blockchain could only work if there was a reward system (otherwise you're dealing with trusted parties and thus no blockchain in the strict sense is needed), and thus it never made any sense to me to see people implementing blockchains everywhere.
News: "Company X is using blockchains internally."
Me: "Does that mean Company X have created a token that can be mined by its own computers, in a crazy internal competition that will waste thousands in energy consumption and hardware?"
It's fairly interesting and still under research but on some smaller cryptocurrencies it seems to be working. Google "proof of stake" for more.
edit: for a single organization that might not be very useful, as you already have one big central entity that you trust (the organization itself) but it is potentially an additional layer of security that can be tailored to the organization's needs.
Because that has nothing to do with being permissionless?
1) Mining isn't required to use the network
2) You don't have to pay any specific "club" to start mining. You need to be able to generate hashes efficiently, how you do that is up to you
3) It's still unrelated to what "permissionless" means in this case
"Permissionless Blockchains allow anyone to participate. The transactions are validated and processed by votes / consensus. A vote does not depend on having a prior identity of any kind within the ledger and no pre-existing trust is assumed between participating nodes."
I define participate as "be able to mine and use the network". You can't do both for free anymore with Bitcoin.
> 2) You don't have to pay any specific "club" to start mining. You need to be able to generate hashes efficiently, how you do that is up to you
Sorry, but it sounds like "In order to learn how to fly you just have to flap your hands more efficiently, how you do that is up to you"
> 3) It's still unrelated to what "permissionless" means in this case
From your definition "Permissionless Blockchains allow anyone to participate". Okay, you can sort of participate in tsunami by jumping in the sea, but do you really do?
You never could. Mining has always had a cost and by design the cost increases to match the block rewards
I'm bored of this argument. You're arguing against a different definition to me and I'm not sure what your point is - that mining is expensive?
That aside, technically anyone with a computing device can contribute to most networks.
You don't have to spend thousands to be a bitcoin miner. You can use any old computer. Making a profit is a different story. Still, resources can be pooled together to buy a competitive mining rig for a few grand.
Even then, a few thousand dollars is realistically not a large entry fee for anything. Wiring your house for Internet access would cost around that much if it wasn't subsidized.
That is presuming a blockchain needs something like proof of work to enforce them being append-only.
One might argue semantics and claim that a blockchain only needs to be a 'chain of blocks' but I think most people expect some form of distributed consensus when something is called a 'blockchain'.
Under the definition often used in finance, all modern Linux machines are powered by blockchain, because journald uses hash-linked entries to provide evidence when log entries are manipulated.
And it's probably true too. Blockchain technology is here to stay. Cryptographic hashes, public key cryptography, merkle trees, hashcash, peer-to-peer networks, all that is here to stay. Of course, all that existed before the Blockchain, in the same way that servers existed before the "Cloud" but it doesn't matter, it's all about that sweet branding.
EDIT: the reason for this is that if the chain ever needs to touch something that isn't entirely stored within the chain - for example, the number of avocados picked on a certain day - it needs a trusted oracle to tell it that. If you have a trusted oracle, you can trust that oracle to host a bog-standard SQL database and avoid this whole mess, unless your boss is breathing down your neck about using "blockchain" so your company can look cool and hip to its investors/clients.
That could be tracked fully on a blockchain with the added advantage of no longer needing to trust some centralized office to 1) correctly track ownership and 2) properly store their records.
A similar idea exists for tracking ownership of domain names.
There are other cases where you trust the oracle but want some form of non-equivocation.
A nice example is a notary.
In that case, just an SQL database doesn't suffice.
Sometimes, something like a pgp-signed statement could work for that.
If you want some more resilience against the claim 'that was signed with a fake key' you could mandate all signatures be published on an actual block-chain.
This time-stamps them so you can see whether they happened before a key compromise, and allows the requirement that the counter-party audits the blockchain to ensure that no signatures are published that they did not know of.
This audit would mean that signatures published with a compromised key would quickly be detected.
This way, the records of the notary are publicaly checkable. You now only need to trust the notary at the time of publishing their signature on the blockchain (with some extra time to ensure they can't claim to not have audited yet).
Towards what purpose? So that a court can look at it and decide who owns the land? In which case the court can run a SQL database for significantly cheaper than a secure proof-of-work system.
The notary idea is a good one, except that it's not actually a problem that needs solving in most countries with a semi-functioning democracy. If you want to timestamp something relatively important, you post it in your city/county/country's newspaper of record. In the UK, for example, that'd be The London/Edinburgh/Belfast Gazette. Various entities maintain copies of these, in case you're worried that the Government decided to edit their copy of the record.
Besides, a system like this could allow for land transfers that are recorded only in the blockchain, without need of an intermediary.
A harder objection would be complicated deeds. For example, a deed that grants a piece of land but requires that, when it is sold, the proceeds go to some charity.
For cases like that, you'd require a signature by a trusted third party (an oracle).
We are now trusting that oracle only to make the right decision when the signature is requested.
Moreover, it is now public data that there is a complex deed behind this transaction.
Thus it is no longer possible that upon sale, the deed has been forgotten and then later it turns up wreaks retroactive havoc.
Another issue would be 'property loss'.
People lose their crypto keys all the time, what happens when people lose the 'key' to their land?
I call of "Proof of Help" (as opposed to Work or Stake). To summarize, the idea is that in a market for tutoring, people can tutor each other, however there would be some sort of way to confirm that tutoring actually took place.
From there, you may receive help in exchange for the quantity of time you've helped others, represented by the Help that you have accumulated by helping. Unlike Bitcoin, this Help can never be converted for fiat and is only useful for receiving tutoring.
Unlike Bitcoin, this wouldn't be decentralized though. It would effectively be a public ledger run by ideally a nonprofit. I think blockchain is a good use for this. Mainly because the quantities of Help should not be able to be manipulated by the centralized authority. Their role here is simply to confirm identities and serve as a sort of access control to the blockchain itself (e.g. They can ban people, but not change how much Help someone has).
Alice and Bob vouch that they each tutored each other for a week straight, despite just leaving a Skype connection open facing a blank wall. Now they've got fifty Tutorbucks each, whereas I had to tutor a dozen college freshmen for a month to get the same amount.
Such a deterrent would hopefully prevent people from attempting to game the system.
The point of recording and publishing the sessions, by the way, is to prevent repeated tutoring sessions surrounding the same question or content, ideally.
As for your situation, in that case the hypothetical system I proposed wouldn't make sense. In the case you're describing now, it would make more sense for your to simply give your Help to the person who assisted you in exchange for their assistance. This is in contrast to the "system" giving you Help for simply helping someone else (i.e. the person receiving help doesn't have to give you their Help).
I guess it depends on what you're recording, but even if you don't save the audio, or the camera recordings, information can still leak. Am I sharing my screen with my tutor? Great; my browser bookmark bar is visible, and possibly my URL history if I start typing something in. Oh, look - my Gmail tab shows my entire full name. My anonymity is blown before the second frame of the video loads.
> In the case you're describing now, it would make more sense for your to simply give your Help to the person who assisted you in exchange for their assistance.
I guess I don't understand the system. I thought that if I tutor Thomas in some basic mathematics, I earn 20 Tutorbucks. I can then spend those 20 Tutorbucks by paying Jenny to help me understand how Spring's authentication system works. It doesn't really make sense to do tutor exchanges - what am I going to ask Thomas for help with?
In any case, it seems like the answer to the submission's question in your case is a resounding no. There's nothing a blockchain brings to the table.
1. Anonymity isn't a goal, persay. Everything you're talking about, in terms of "public incompetence" is true immediately once you post anything online. It's only a matter of time. Personally I'd argue that people who are actively seeking tutoring would be more sought after, but that's another story. Not to mention most of the things you're mentioning could be accounted for during implementation.
2. In your example, if you tutor Thomas in basic math, you would receive 20 Tutorbucks in exchange for said knowledge to be available to everyone, hence the exchange being public (furthermore, a third party would have to spend their Tutorbucks to actually view said session, perhaps). If, you wanted Jenny then to help you with Spring's authentication you could then give her the 20 Tutorbucks as opposed to the system giving it to you, and then it could be private, though that's not how I originally conceived it.
As for the submission question -- how do you guarantee to all participants that data isn't changed without blockchain?
Not true. A potential employer doesn't know what I'm googling for, and they have no way to tie "throwaway37745XXQQXX" on StackOverflow back to me.
> As for the submission question -- how do you guarantee to all participants that data isn't changed without blockchain?
There are other ways to ensure that the data is authentic. Thomas and I could both sign the resulting video or other data with private keys. I'm not entirely sure how else proof-of-help would work, anyway - how does me tutoring Thomas or Jenny tutoring me append to the blockchain? It's all based on what we claim occurred.
I think your idea is good - publicly available tutoring, with social elements - minus the blockchain.
Hopefully if the tokens had a somewhat stable value, it would be somewhat difficult to convince people to give you the token versus being able to generate them easily.
So say those dozen freshman have 100 tokens saved up, and give you 5 a day for a week of tutoring, you wind up with 420 and can then reward someone later for a somewhat proportional amount of help. But if I just pool my tokens together with someone else, we only generate 14 tokens over the week.
If the tokens have any value outside the system, the whole thing grinds to a halt, as people start HODLing them like idiots, and people stop getting paid to actually do anything. The tokens having a dollar value would probably be the thing to kill this otherwise wholesome idea.
Here, your "help" is the object you want to have on the blockchain that is trustlessly secure. The analogous object in bitcoin is money.
Web 1.0 was about selling stuff. Web 2.0 was about hoarding data and using it to sell stuff. If blockchains are Web 3.0, what's the model?
Bitcoin was released free and the designer got nothing beyond the initial stake, which only works for coins. Ethereum is run by a foundation.
Say I want to launch a blockchain startup and really hit the sweet spot according to this paper, how do I build a business on it?
This model isn't as exciting as "disrupting X with blockchain" but it's certainly possible to build a profitable business with it.
Now, I'm well aware that technology isn't inherently ideological. So you could hypothetically come up with a way to hack it to make it do what you want to do. And a lot of people are trying to do this, i.e. the SegWit folks, but the way they're doing this is by breaking the fundamental decentralization of blockchain to make it more federated/centralized. It's a perversion of Satoshi's vision, but it's not unethical or technically invalid.
But the question I have is, why? A business is inherently about taking money from disparate sources and putting it in a central location: your business' bank account. You might be able to do this with blockchain, but it's working against the decentralized, untrusted model, not with it. A datomic-style log handles the ledger aspects of blockchain with a fraction of the technical complexity, and you don't need the untrusted aspects of blockchain if you're running a centralized business (ostensibly, you trust yourself). If you succeed in using blockchain to run a centralized business, it's despite the model, not because of it.
There's one exception, which is that the underregulated nature of the current blockchain industries and the hype around blockchain open up some opportunities (i.e. this is why the SegWit folks can make money off this). But that's more about checking the "blockchain" keyword off in your marketing/legal materials than about the actual benefits of the technology (i.e. ICOs--the only benefit blockchain actually gives is that it allows you to skirt financial regulation, which has nothing to do with the technical benefits of the technology). And as regulations are put in place and hype fades, a lot of these opportunities will dry up: most are temporary and the ones that aren't are extremely difficult technically.
Blockchain IS a revolution, but it's not a revolution that can be easily coopted by rent-seekers (and make no mistake, that is what you're proposing). The rent-seekers will eventually break it (they always do) but then it will be just another financial instrument, and unless you have an in-depth technical AND social understanding of the technology (like the SegWit folks) you're unlikely to be one of the rent-seekers who benefits from this. There are a lot of lower-hanging fruit out there to build a business on.
"You can't add value just by forking Bitcoin" may be what you are trying to say here, and I agree. I'm trying to think past that to what value could be added to the blockchain to justify collecting rent while preserving the decentralized trustless nature of the vision.
Yes, that's exactly what I mean. And I'll explicitly say that SegWit is run by rent-seekers. Yes, they do add value in the sense that they allow bitcoin to scale, but they do so by making it federated: at which point they're an immature, lower-value implementation of the traditional banking system. If you're okay with federation, just use traditional finance. If you're not okay with federation, then you aren't okay with SegWit. In neither case does SegWit add value.
> I'm trying to think past that to what value could be added to the blockchain to justify collecting rent while preserving the decentralized trustless nature of the vision.
But why though? If your goals are to centralize money in your pocket, using a decentralized structure and keeping it decentralized is like using a screwdriver to catch butterflies. It's the wrong tool for the job. It's using a decentralized, untrusted structure to achieve a centralized, trusted goal.
All the existing models I know of for making money off developing a blockchain involve some form of centralization. Either centralized mining (premining, ICOs) or breaking decentralization entirely (SegWit, Ripple).
Nano (née Raiblocks) uses a block lattice where each transaction from an account (accounts are first class citizens here) is appended onto a previous one, and only when accounts interact is there consensus required. Nano uses a combination of PoS and PoW (called Delegated Proof of Stake) to secure its chain. While in theory this is less distributed than blockchain (nodes elect delegates who actually perform the updates), in reality Bitcoin already is a network centralized around mining pools, so IMO dPoS openly acknowledges the centralization that already exists.
Because that's generally what really drives adoption, investors willing to fund innovation that adds value.
> All the existing models I know of for making money off developing a blockchain involve some form of centralization.
Lets be creative! Build a 'siphon' into the blockchain to capture small bits of each transaction and re-sell that to generate income? Or treat it as a traditional open source project and position yourself as the best implementation because you designed it.
There are also different types of centralization that don't necessarily involve interfering with the blockchain. You can decentralize the ledger but centralize the transaction entry. Or centralize the reporting (anyone can make entries but only the authority can verify them, subject to auditing).
Bitcoin users fall into basically two camps:
1. Users who want to ride the hype to make money (be it through speculation or through a centralized service).
2. Users who want untrusted decentralization as an ideological benefit.
If you're in the first camp, you have no reason to care about decentralization. And frankly, if you're in this camp, you're more likely to be taken by one of the more knowledgeable users in this camp who is running a scam of some sort than to make money yourself. The traditional banking system might be better for you. Not because you're not welcome, but because untrusted decentralization doesn't fit your goals.
If you're in the second camp, you have little reason to want adoption beyond a certain point. Obviously adoption increases value and utility of your coins, but it also pushes regulation (i.e. recent Chinese policy changes) and centralization (like SegWit). Large-scale adoption has not been a good thing for ideological proponents of Bitcoin.
It sounds like you're in the first camp, and you're not going to understand why the ideas you're posing don't work until you understand the second camp. Bitcoin was created for the goals of the second camp and if those goals aren't your goals, using it is probably counterproductive.
I mean, why use blockchain for this when there are appropriate centralized, trusted tools for solving centralized trusted problems.
> Build a 'siphon' into the blockchain to capture small bits of each transaction and re-sell that to generate income?
That's a centralized siphon (and why would anyone pay you to use this blockchain?).
> There are also different types of centralization that don't necessarily involve interfering with the blockchain. You can decentralize the ledger but centralize the transaction entry. Or centralize the reporting (anyone can make entries but only the authority can verify them, subject to auditing).
Verification is definitely a key part of blockchain--if you don't have decentralized verification you have a datomic-style log with a decentralized cache. If you centralize that I'd say you don't have a decentralized blockchain any more (this is basically Ripple, or if you're talking about non-coin type logs, git changelogs with signed commits where you only accept commits from entities you trust).
Most exchanges are 100% centralized, I agree. But it's entirely possible to buy/sell/trade Bitcoins without ever interacting with an exchange, so I'm not sure that means Bitcoin is centralized.
The crypto market always stuck me as being designed the way a student is taught how markets work in college. Exchanges all the way down.
Any finance professional will tell you that only a tiny fraction of stock market trades are actually on an exchange, the vast majority are filled privately between a successive layers of a broker's clients and only the ownership change is sent to the authority.
1. Private exercise of of investment options usually occurs within the context of brokerages, hedge funds, and companies exercising their own stocks, no? For the first two, they have to be large enough to have lots of clients, and the last one is limited to one stock. I'd see the brokerages/hedge funds as a form of federation so that it doesn't make sense to distinguish it from exchanges on the centralization/decentralization spectrum, and stuff internal to a company doesn't really occur on the open market in the same way so I'm not sure it's relevant at all.
2. Percentage of trades isn't the only metric: ease of trades is also relevant. I could find a Bitcoiner on Craigslist and give him cash at a coffee shop for coins. Doing this with most traditional financial instruments would be difficult if not simply illegal. Coins for cash at a coffee shop isn't probably the most common use case, but it's certainly easy and possible, and that's relevant.
And given the stratospheric price on bitcoins, what's the chances of anybody wanting to transfer such amounts without some kind of audit trail/registration?
Bitcoins are highly divisible, so you can purchase $1 worth of Bitcoin if you want. Probably that's not worth it to make it worth anyone's time, but lots of people are willing to show up to a coffee shop to sell amounts of Bitcoin >$200. So the astromical cost of Bitcoin isn't really relevant to how much you can buy/sell in a single transaction.
I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that transfers <$10K don't require an audit trail legally. That said, if you don't want an audit trail, Bitcoin's public ledger makes it not the best choice. There are lots of reasons you might avoid buying from exchanges that aren't about leaving an audit trail (for example: simply to screw over the exchanges for political/social reasons).
But there could still be economic incentives. For example, if GNU Taler succeeds as a payment system and manages to replace Visa, that could mean less fees for both customers and merchants which would be incentive enough for the merchants and customers to adopt the system.
Basically you cannot think in terms of traditional business models. You need to think of it as a free software project that might potentially be a massive cost saving for enough people to adopt it.
The way this reads now, the only products built on blockchains will be industry consortiums trying to "cut out the middlemen", which they will then use to limit competition by excluding new entrants.
You may trust those third parties, but as always you also want the facility to easily verify (because your trust can be undermined by a single employee, a single malfunction, a single hack, and so on). When you add the notion of verification the whole evaluation flips.
I want a national voting system with distributed ledgers in every state, and to add to that, every state has a copy of every other states voting records by virtue of having to validate the transactions. There's obviously lots of particulars around this, such as what to do with absentee ballots that are mailed in. This is a hypothetical use, at least in my mind.
Another one, more for the finance industry. A few years back, I paid my rent with a moneygram. A few weeks later, I got a phone call from the rental office telling me that moneygram rejected the payment and that I needed to call moneygram. Upon calling them, they said that they had record of me buying the moneygram (or whatever the hell it actually is), but that their system didn't have a record and there wasn't much they could do beyond give me a refund. How in the actual hell does a payments company have a problem like that? As a developer, I'm left to wonder if this was caused by some errant production release that wiped records, or a developer who ran a script from a well-known runbook that wiped out critical data (read: Amazon S3), or maybe even fraud somewhere in the pipeline. Why don't they have this data distributed and backed up in offline systems? If the government is willing to throw the book at financial fraud crimes (Unless you are Jamie Dimon), then there aught to be some kind of mandate that we have a verified ledger of electronic financial activities. The even scarier thing, to me, is that I thought they would have been doing that already...
Those are a few potential uses from my perspective.
Payments is definitely something blockchain can do better in some cases
I am in general a blockchain skeptic - I think in most cases, there’s just enough trust to just use a centralized database - but voting seems like a good usecase for blockchain, as it provides voters with a receipt and it’s designed for auditing provenance.
This is, in fact, undesirable. If verifiability is possible by an individual someone can ask you (under thread of violence) to verify that you did or did not vote a certain way. It's especially undesirable if verification can be performed a long time after the vote is completed because laws and social mores can change turning a previously innocent vote into a black mark.
There are probably even better methods to further protect both anonymity and verifiability. I don’t know if the group at (2) is still active, but the graphic presented there looks like a good setup—-though I think they are after vote-from-home, while my linked comment still makes use of polling places.
But I figure we could tag each vote with a unique hash that's generated by, and known only to, the voter.
Then, when all votes are cast, the database can be made public, including the hashes. Then each voter can check that their vote has been registered correctly, without the government knowing who voted what way.
This wouldn't be good enough, though. We want to make it impossible to confirm to anyone else which way you voted, even if you want to, in order to prevent vote-selling.
> But what about someone who claims their vote was eliminated after voting occurred? There's no way to verify that either way.
You mean someone who cast a vote but then doesn't see it turn up on the public voting database? I imagine we could solve that with crypto. In my model: when you vote, you are given a cryptographically-signed proof-of-vote that is tied to your unique hash.
> would not be possible using a blockchain
Unless I'm missing something (which is entirely possible), I've shown that blockchain isn't the only solution.
Let me reiterate: I am a blockchain skeptic. I think that, for the most part, it's a solution looking for a problem, and there's enough trust in most interactions that it's not worth the trouble. I just think voting is one of the rare instances where it does make sense.
True, the voter can prove that tampering happened, as the signature receipt they are given is specific to their voting choice (as well as to their secret hash).
How would a blockchain fare against a 51% attack? What secret/proof does the voter have that an imposter doesn't have? Is each person issued a 'votecoin'? How could we maintain voter anonymity?
My complaint about bitcoin itself is that rather than creating a virtual currency, we really created a virtual commodity; that is, it's the closest we've come to creating a virtual item that has the properties of scarcity and non-transferability of physical items. I think that's bad for a currency, but good for auditing votes.
So we're trusting the voting machines? Doesn't that defeat the point? Surely they should be able to run on public networks while honouring Kerckhoffs's principle: A cryptosystem should be secure even if everything about the system, except the key, is public knowledge.
That's the whole mission here, no?
> they may just see a normal voting machine at their precinct, beep-boop the screen and go home. The value would be in being able to audit the entire vote chain, which we currently don't do.
But if there's no 'voter identity' in the system at all, what's stopping a malicious government from just synthesising the whole blockchain?
Maybe. I'm not married to much - I'm just defending that voting is one of the rare cases where I think blockchain has value. We currently trust the voting machines, so even if we do it with the voting machines, it's still an improvement on what we're currently doing.
> But if there's no 'voter identity' in the system at all, what's stopping a malicious government from just synthesising the whole blockchain?
Not much! So we either have to allow individuals voters to get a receipt and verify their votes (which can introduce problems), or we have to print paper receipts which are kept on site. Yes, those can be printed out as a bad actor synthesizes a new blockchain, but paper ballots can be faked, too.
To me, the mission is creating an easily auditable voting record, which we do not have now.
Indeed, and that's a huge mistake. Should have stuck with paper ballot. The high-tech solution isn't always better. In this case, it seems pretty clear that it's far worse. The Diebold voting machines, for instance, have been shown to be a joke.
I like Scheneier's idea that perhaps machines could have some value as supplemental machinery to a paper ballot https://www.schneier.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-search.cgi?search=vot...
> I'm just defending that voting is one of the rare cases where I think blockchain has value
> the mission is creating an easily auditable voting record
I don't see any link between these two. I'm not convinced there'd be any value in a blockchain.
> paper ballots can be faked, too
But it's far harder to do so at scale than with voting machines, particularly if the voting machines are poorly implemented, which they invariably are.
There's an enormous difference between trusting the government to _count_ the votes correctly and trusting the government to _record_ the votes correctly, and I think this is actually the point. How do you enable voting _without_ trusting the government?
If you have a public database then you can sign votes into it, but how do you ensure that the government won't simply delete votes it doesn't like? Pretty soon you get to the idea that each vote should be incremental to all the votes before it, so no one can manipulate the previous votes... and you get a blockchain.
A blockchain would allow you to separate the act of voting from the tallying of votes, which would be an enormous improvement over the current 'check everyone's eligibility at the door and don't mention how many people you turned away'.
Of course, in neither data format do you have any way of actually authenticating the other votes, by design. Maybe the vote in the block before yours was a dead person, or never existed at all, how would you know? (this is what the crypto world calls a "sybil attack") Whoops, looks like we're back to trusting a centralized authority (the government, who issues the voter tokens). So why do we need millions of computers hashing away, again?
Fundamentally, one of the design features of voting is that it's un-verifiable, i.e. you can say you're voting Bush and go into the booth and vote Gore, and nobody can prove otherwise. Otherwise you could have personal threats against you (boss/spouse/etc) and if you have a ticket that can be verified to show you voted Gore then you could suffer personal harm. Verifiability to the public is actually an bug in the system here - it should be verifiable to the government and no one else. The best systems produce a paper token that is retained at the voting site. You can then validate the number of tokens against the voting rolls/etc, but the "evidence" stays in the possession of the government (who we've already agreed must be trusted anyway since they're the ones maintaining voter rolls/issuing tokens and ballots/checking IDs/etc).
I forget what the name of the theorem is, that says identifiers like domain names or onion names can either be unique/authentic, intelligible, or decentralized, pick any two. Well, you can also say that ballots can either be publically verifiable, trustless, or private, pick any two (where "guaranteed one-per-person" is a form of trust). Blockchain doesn't escape this, it is just a different format for the data (Merkle tree vs flat CSV).
In many European countries we do have that, as we carry our national ID cards that have their own private key for signing documents and authenticating. Signing a vote securely isn't a problem but then the problem comes on how you sign it and keep it anonymous simultaneously. Also of course we trust that the state doesn't keep the private keys somehow when creating new cards.
If you are worried that the government is going to change the vote tally, should you not also be worried that the government will generate fake keys to vote in the election, or simply add rows with fake signatures? You need to verify that those rows are authentic, and that's not possible while maintaining a private ballot. The only defense is to have someone who can say "I.C. Wiener is not a real person", whether that's the government or the public.
Private-ballot voting only works with the government as an "oracle". The government is the defense against sybil attacks (multiple voting, etc). You can have other systems if you are willing to let people see how each other voted, but private-ballot voting is pretty ingrained at this point.
--- theory stuff:
A trivial solution to the problems that blockchain approaches is "majority-wins". You take a vote and whatever the most participants agree is the "true" history wins (eg electing a master node in a distributed system). But how do you prevent one attacker from pretending to be a lot of people (aka a sybil attack)?
What blockchain provides is a solution for sybil attacks - participants are individually financially incentivized to burn the maximum amount of power they can, and an attacker must burn more than the rest of them combined to succeed.
As a general statement, "private" blockchains make little sense in that context, since you've removed the Red Queen's Race that provides the sybil-resistance. Most people are better off just using a database, since they really have no need of sybil-resistance anyway. The participants are trusted (f.ex when electing a master node in a distributed system), or can agree to trust some oracle (the party who runs the server). A regular database works fine for these cases.
Without the cryptocurrency attached, what you really have is Merkle trees, not a blockchain. I love Merkle trees, I use them all the time in my filesystem (ZFS). But the "shape" of the data on disk does not provide any particular benefits in terms of consensus-resolution. For things like voting, distributing the vote tabulations as a flat CSV would be just as effective as distributing them as a Merkle tree.
That's what I mean by the difference between counting votes and recording votes. All the dead people throughout history could record a vote, but that's doesn't mean they all have to count in terms of who gets elected.
All you would need is a private key given to you by the government that is associated with your identity that you use to sign your vote. Then the government can only count the votes by the identities it trusts.
Also, you are still fundamentally trusting a centralized authority - the government who issues the keys, and the same government you were worried about fudging the vote count. Maybe the government is adding people who don't exist (sybil attack), and the "signatures" on some of those votes are just random noise, how do you know? So your scheme gains you nothing.
At the end of the day, the only trustless scheme for voting is being able to tie votes back to names so that illegitimate votes can be challenged by the public. Any other scheme requires you to trust the government to count votes fairly, or issue keys/voter tokens fairly (we can call these a "ballot"). Blockchain doesn't change this, and if we want to get rid of the secret ballot we don't need Blockchain to do so.
Edit: Example - people vote against unpopular candidate Paul. Paul then stages a coup and takes control of government. He then asks you to provide a receipt that you voted for him on the blockchain or all your property is confiscated by the state.
I mean, "I can't" is an honest answer here, since its unrecoverable and many people won't care enough to try to verify their votes.
He might want to to punish enemies or reward supporters; “control of government” id, in practice, not infinite power, and people often use such a position to, first and foremost, secure the position.
> I mean, "I can't" is an honest answer
Which is a reason Paul might want to let it be known that some form of accountability will be asked in advance. (Which he also might due to push the actual vote results; if it is projected to be close, expecting a cost for voting the “wrong” way if one candidate wins will likely shift some votes.)
Despite being so simple, the paper ballot is quite hard to improve upon without making mistakes. Moreover, a democracy should probably have the requirement that the voting process is transparent and understandable for all citizens.
The first attempts at electronic voting (if at all) should probably be made in countries like Estonia where all citizens have e-ID cards with cryptographic key pairs you can use for some oldschool cryptographic voting schemes.
If you need to convince management to pay for it, then it's not yours.
The post now points to the PDF of a 7-page paper which goes into some detail.
Apparently, the original link led to a snarky "No", which isn't at all as flippant as what the paper states.
Thank you for the note, I missed the "original" link.
Surely the "No" is more than a bit snarky, but it is not like the paper in itself contain that much of meaningful "news" or "ground-breaking" considerations, the conclusion (like it seems to me is happening very often on similar papers, i.e. a not-conclusion) is:
"We conclude that depending on the application scenario, there are indeed valid use cases for each, permissionless and permissioned blockchains, and centralized databases that need to be determined carefully."
It is not a "No", but it is a "it depends" that is not providing much more than the "No".
The PDF is linked in the footer.
Perhaps seemingly showing a result before I've answered questions is an anti-pattern.
How to decide if blockchain is right for your project?
At the least, replace the site with a link to the PDF. It seems the average user here is incapable of reading as far as the second link on the page.
> The choice between a permissionless, permissioned or centralized database is not trivial. While this question has been discussed before , to the best of our knowledge, we provide in this article the first structured methodology to decide which technological
solution is the most appropriate depending on which application scenario
Can someone give me an example of an always online trusted third party, and also let me know that how can you see into the future so that this third party keeps its guarantees throughout life?
Edit: flagging this post as it seems like a troll attempt to me
From the perspective of a regular user, many "always only trusted third parties" exist - in the western world, for all intents and purposes, they include their utility suppliers, banks, telephone companies, email providers, and chat services.
This site is perfect for someone like my sister who is constantly forwarding blockchain-related junk to me, because her (non technical) job brought her to a few conferences about such things. Yet she doesn't understand the design tradeoffs of such an approach, she only sees the buzz.
And yes, I have talked to people who have proposed to use block chain for storing papers. So while it might be obvious to you that blockchain is not a solution for that, it's still a good paper that lays out in detail what a blackchain does and doesn't do.
This question reduces to, “Can someone give me an example of a third party I’ll trust?”
In general, it is correct to say that if you can trust a third party, you do not need a blockchain. “Always online” can refer to a variey of tiers of certainty. For example, it can mean infrastructure built on AWS or GCP, which is probably safe for the foreseeable future, excepting societal collapse or financial catastrophe. On the other hand, it sounds like you’re interpreting this literally (or at least, far more strongly), such that you require near epistemological certainty that a third party is both trusted and always available (more simply, will never be Byzantine).
The authors are not wrong to discourage use of a blockchain if you can trust a third party, because trusting a third party is simply easier. In the abstract, trusted third parties alleviate the requirement for decentralization and permissionlessness, but different parties have different (and nuanced) risk and trust models. Whether or not you should trust a third party is a function of the value of your data and the perceived resources and incentives of the vendor.
Circling back to your comment - your question is ill-posed, because your implicit requirements for a trust guarantee are likely to be significantly higher than others. For example, I backup my data to Backblaze B2 and Google GCP. Neither of them are “always online” in the literal sense, nor decentralized, so I’m trusting them in particular. Theoretically, backing up my data to a blockchain would be better for thermodynamic trust guarantees based on a distributed, mathematically hard, economically incentivized proof of work. But I don’t need that.
Trust and availability are not binary concepts. Furthermore, you should assess a third party’s trustworthiness and availability based on the value of your own data, not just their capabilities and resources.
Real life example at the moment IOTA is working like that, there is one coordinator that works as trusted party (in my honest opinion they will never be able to shut it, but let's wait and see), another example is byteballs another DAG implementation works with 12 witnesses (at the moment controlled by a single physical entity, but in the future can be distributed)
But why not embrace all the money (and talent) flowing into this space through the hype and let natural selection run its course to leave us with some great tech that really leverages blockchain technology?
eInk might be a good example: despite a lot of interest and investment, it’s still a niche product despite having made big advances from where it was in the 90s because competing technologies had fewer hard challenges.
Seconded. I'm almost certain they are, or at least, they're pretty damn hard to stop.
Yes, a blockchain is just a graph data structure. centralization and censorship resistance are only due to how the data structure is used not to there being a data structure.
It's actually pretty similar to saying - Need to drink milk? Use a splay tree.
It's just not persistent the way Bitcoin's blockchain is.
Do you want to have social life?
---- Yes: you don't need internet
---- No: you need permissionless internet
Clearly, you don't need an internet. It lacks coherence and autonomous smart contract decentralization cloud computing chainblocks. Case closed.