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IOTA being shut off is the latest chapter in an absurdist history (coindesk.com)
128 points by notkaiho 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 98 comments

”I was a green crypto reporter approached by the press team for former beauty queen and reality TV contestant Jessica VerSteeg, who wanted to open a cannabis business in California. [...] VerSteeg wanted to use the IOTA protocol, named for its proposed functionality with internet-of-things (IoT) devices, in a coworking space for cannabis startups.”

This project is peak 2017 bullshit. I can imagine the pitch deck: “It’s WeWork but for cannabis startups using IoT on the blockchain promoted by a reality TV star!”

This project is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to hilarity and schadenfreude. Custom hash function? Bizarre obsession with trinary? Complete centralization in a space where decentralization is the point? Constant big announcements with no substance?

I love watching these guys and their supporters. It's like watching an internet cult in real time.

Reading the reddit is insane. It is one thing to see the creators and their bullshit and insane ideas and think "ok they are good at marketing, some people believed them, happens all the time". But it is reading the reddit that really puts you in contact with the chilling fear that comes from the sheer number of idiotic completely disconnected from reality people who flock around this project, who not only support the project itself but constantly contribute with various hairs-raising ideas one more insane than the next, and proudly show off their total disregard for objective technological landscape or any empirical logically sound reality in general.

That's very much like most of the crypto projects/subs work. Lot of people with no technical understanding, completely disconnected from reality, probably owning substantial amounts of coins.

Honourable mentions to subs like /r/lisk or /r/arkecosystem

Yeah, I was gonna say, this pretty standard /r/buttcoin fare. The main difference with BTC (pick your flavour...) is only that the pyramid hasn't toppled (yet?).

Not sure why you've been downvoted (usually HN isn't terribly pro-BTC). Perhaps it's referencing the buttcoin subreddit, which for those who don't know, is an actual subreddit that is very cynical towards cryptocurrency.

During a lunch the topic of cryptocurrencies came up and a co-worker of mine said he'd invested in IOTA and EOS (another nonsense coin).

The thing is I think he's smart and a programmer with the head in the right place and has made a ton of very good decisions at work. So if you think these projects only attract idiots and fools you're wrong. Smart people can also be fooled.

As another example, doctors and dentists have traditionally been prime targets for investment scammers long before cryptocurrencies were invented. They're intelligent in a particular field and have money, but often lack business experience and common sense.

Dentacoin meanwhile continues its slide from a top market cap of nearly $2B (currently at around $15M). It's really worth watching the video which has gone through several iterations and still makes no sense.


In the earliest phases of my career, working the help desk for a small dial-up in the late 90's, the worst customers to deal with were doctors and lawyers, due to their overconfidence.

I had a similar experience when I used to work tech support for an ISP many years ago. Customers such as Lawyers or Doctors would get extremely irate over not being able to get a technician out to their home same day to fix whatever problem they were having, always making sure to mention their profession and how important they were to whatever organization they were a part of.

In my case it seemed they had a hard time accepting that a 22 year old knew more than they did about a subject.

Gullibility and analytical intelligence are not mutually exclusive.

There's a fairly substantial overlap between the people who completely drank the cryptocurrency kool-aid and the people who got sucked into so-called "alt-right" and associated fellow-traveling stuff ("red pill," NRx, etc.) around the same time period. Seems like there were some incredibly virulent meme plagues that afflicted the high-IQ-but-gullible crowd in the middle part of this decade.

Cryptocurrency has done a lot of damage to the tech world due mostly to the sheer amount of brainpower it's sucked up that might otherwise have been used for more useful stuff. It's been kind of a tar pit where you have vast resources chasing things that have no actual real world value. It sort of reminds me of that Star Trek TNG episode where they try to kill off the Borg collective by giving them an impossible geometric shape to ponder endlessly.

there's also an ideological component to it tied into all the libertarian crypto fantasies that makes people believe they're sticking it to the man and so on.

A lot of these crypto companies frame themselves as liberators from the banks who don't want to give you a share of the pie and so on, targetting vulnerable people who seek opportunity. It's very cynical.

Another space where I have observed this is online education startups. Lots of "you don't need a degree", "the universities are just trying to keep you out", "we're bringing education to the masses" etc. Same sales pitch.

The worst thing about those online education startups is how they've actually made online education worse.

All those universities that donated lecture videos to places like edx and Coursera? Yeah, you can't access most of those lectures anymore. They're either paywalled or deemed not to fit in with their paywall platform of the day and are no longer accessible.

For a brief glorious moment it actually seemed like we'd have a great quantity of quality University material available over the internet for anyone who wanted it. But it's all gone now.

OK, I'll take the bait, why is EOS a nonsense coin?

It does exactly nothing better than anything that was done before it.

That's not an analysis or an answer to my question, but in response to your statement, EOS does do things differently than most POW chains as it is DPOS, does that make it better? Who can say.

I'm not looking for dogmatic crypto-tribalistic nonsense, simply an answer to why the GP felt necessary to lump EOS into his ad hominem attack. Too often these discussions resemble drunk bar patrons arguing over which cities sports team is better, I hoped HN would be better than that.

DPOS, with 21 nodes mostly located in China.

Yeah, it's "different", but not in a good way.

EOS has a bunch of big problems, and they're not likely to fix them, as there's no motivation to do so.

Because the decentralization is highly questionable with only a small set of controlling nodes, who also receive a big payout which means their control over the network grows even more. (Due to proof-of-stake.)

We're also making fun of how IOTA stopped their network, but EOS had a similar situation in 2018. Granted they have more than a single fricking node, but that it was even possible should tell you something about the network.

Don't bother, this comment section is a mirror image of the reddit echo chamber. It's either a shitcoiner or nocoiner mentality, no reasoning just emotional momentum from a keyboard.

I wonder if there's a single one of them who was legitimately interested in the protocol and technological aspects and "making the world a better place" and was not just looking to get rich quick.

Is there any real reason these exist except for the ultimate motive of making people believe they'll become richer, like 2012-era Bitcoin actually caused, and proceeding to profit off their ignorance?

If not then it makes a lot of sense that a sizeable amount of people would preach nonesense for months. They'd believe there's compensation for them waiting at the end of it all.

And it doesn't even need to end in having cryptocurrency-of-the-month being exposed as a scam or anything. People can just believe it didn't work out this time and continue searching for an IoT-enabled 2012-era Bitcoin that in the future will likely never exist.

I know it's cliche, but money corrupts. This is probably another manifestation of that with what improved technology now allows us to accomplish.

> First their custom-made hash-function was broken and you could forge transactions. Now they had to shut down their network because their wallet was hacked. This is insane because you should not be able to shut down a decentralized network.

it was never decentralised, they openly admitted this. They had 'plans' to decentralise it. The hype around this project was supported by nothing other than shills and bots, hoping to sucker in a few clueless noobs.

It was amazing, there were headlines all the time about something huge that happens but no one ever followed up anything.

"Tokyo chooses IOTA"

You assume that that city is implementing IOTA, right? If you dig deep enough you will see that what actually happens is that few people from IOTA will participate in something like a seminar with a workshop in Tokyo. It is organized by somebody in the city administration as part of some social program and there are 30 participants and what IOTA is chosen for is to be among those.

> “This year we’re really focused on making sure our technology is mature enough to have real, live products,” Schiener said.

Outage of 12 days and counting... Why won’t anyone put us in production..

I enjoy thinking about an IoT world they envisioned being shutdown for 12 days.

Crytpocurrencies are not valued on its software (even though paradoxically, what makes it different from other currencies is that it's only software). Otherwise the best software would have the highest market cap, which obviously isn't the case. This is true to such an extreme degree that it doesn't even matter if the cryptocurrency is used, works, or even have a single working implementation. Seriously, there are top >100M market cap coins that have never shipped a working binary.

> there are top >100M market cap coins that have never shipped a working binary.

How do people know who has how many coins?

The total number of coins in a chain is deterministic. If using a UTXO model, then it's the number of unspent outputs that are linked to your private key, if using the account model, then there is an on-chain state that holds your balance, your nonce and some space for code (which is how smart contracts work..).

In the case of ERC style tokens, the token issuing contract holds a hashtable that links public addresses to a token balance as well as an invariant for totalSupply.

In any case, anyone with access to a block explorer or a node can query for an address and see its balance using the provided APIs (in ethereum it would be web3.eth.getBalance('0xdeacafe')

In many cases tokens were distributed on ethereum, which could later be used in the product once it got released.

Almost every coin is implemented with straightforward, non-blinded accounting ("UTXO" model) such that everyone knows how many coins are associated with each public key. For example, this one belongs to Hal Finney (the creator of Bitcoin) and you trace the balance of and movement of coins transparently:


Small correction. Although many people think that Hal Finney could have been the creator of Bitcoin, the matter is far from settled. He even denied it himself before he passed.

> Hal Finney (the creator of Bitcoin)

Uhh, source??

Is there some kind of binary backing https://blocksteam.info? Information doesn't just appear on the internet.

Bitcoin is not one of the scams with no working software I was talking about.

The information comes from a leveldb database you can download from peers after installing this client: https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin

> "how do people know who has how many coins, for a coin which has reportedly never shipped a working binary"?

They have a MySQL type database that stores IOUs for the people who bought the ICO tokens. They promise to deliver the actual coins once they finish the software, which in many cases has never happened. Others are less egregious than this and have working binaries on a testnet--the future main network is promised to deliver the actual functionality. There are a few coins (Cardano, EOS) worth multiple billions that don't have a mainnet or a working wallet.

Cardano certainly has both a working mainnet and a working wallet, and has for a couple of years.

They are also running a testnet for their staking capability, which will promote to the main net eventually -- but claiming they're not running a live net and don't have a wallet is absolutely incorrect.

EOS mainnet launched in 2018 and it certainly has wallets. As far as I can tell it does what they said it would do.

> Bitcoin is not one of the scams with no working software I was talking about.

OK, why'd you use this example as your entire response to "how do people know who has how many coins, for a coin which has reportedly never shipped a working binary"?

Can you answer the original question instead of linking an unrelated bitcoin topic?

> Hal Finney (the creator of Bitcoin)

To be clear, this isn't definitive, as he is one of many individuals suspected to be Satoshi Nakamoto.

I think it is fair to say he is "a" creator of Bitcoin given all the early work he did to make the project a success but there is no evidence that he is the inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto.

As an unrelated side note it is worth reading his post from 2009 when we talks about having ALS: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/bshZiaLefDejvPKuS/dying-outs... I have a memory of discovering this essay on hn, but I can no longer find the discussion. Maybe I remembered it wrong.

Edit: I found it https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=867623

Really speculating people are some anonymous person that doesn't want to be identified is at best, rude, otherwise dangerous. Don't make assertions you can't prove, despite the man being dead.

Good riddance, I remember during the bull run my friend was talking about Iota. I was into mining at the time and looked up how to mine it. Read about the project and knew it was scam then, not sure how it survived until now.

Looking forward to the day where the shitcoins die off and there's only a handful of cryptos on exchanges/people talk about.

SI'm afraid that day will never come. BS in that space is just too deep. Valuations are imaginary, people involved too delusional and none of these projects are based on anything real.

>Read about the project and knew it was scam then

I felt this way for quite a few projects and I'll be honest I felt too smart by half by passing, I don't regret my risk adverse nature though.

Some of the most lucrative offers were obvious bullshit, but it didn't matter at all. Crowds were so frenetic about where the next "big project" was they didn't and couldn't comprehend that they were being fleeced.

It wasn't until a buddy of mine talked about his nephew "wanting to invest in X coin because the price was low".

Lot's of hype = lot's of dumb money ∴ Profits can be made on where dumb money flows.

Still waiting for a use case of blockchain outside cryptocurrency also.

There isn't. If there are, none of them would be viable for-profit business entities like they're claiming. I can see a nameserver (like DNS) using a blockchain. Or maybe a distributed identity service can use a blockchain. These would have to function as public goods owned by no one; otherwise why not use existing DNS or existing government IDs. This pretty much rules out any mention of "blockchain" in a for-profit company's pitch deck as ever being useful to the world.

DNS on a blockchain is actually the very first altcoin, before even Litecoin. 2011.

It’s not really usable though; all the “dns on blockchain” means just “well we can store arbitrary data on the blockchain, some are parseable as DNS records maybe, and then I guess we can parse all the chain to get all the records???”

it was as meaningful in 2011 as it is in 2020

A blockchain alone is a horrible data structure for random access lookup. There were so many hacks that had to be done to make Bitcoin work efficiently on BerkeleyDB and LevelDB.

Ethereum lets you do general purpose computing, so there are nameservers that just use a hash table. That's how ENS (.eth) works. But at that point it's not really "DNS as a blockchain"; it's more like ICANN but running on Ethereum miners's computers instead of

You are making an assumption about how blockchains work. Do you think the linked-list like structure of how blocks are added to the chain is how data is stored and retrieved?

For reference: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Bitcoin_Core_0.11_(ch_2):_Data_St... https://hackernoon.com/getting-deep-into-ethereum-how-data-i...

I'm aware it is implemented more efficiently. The problem it is trying to solve is orthogonal to what DNS does: search vs. verification.

DNS needs to resolve an name on the order of nanoseconds across a distributed system. It is designed with this in mind. A blockchain is designed with integrity in mind. Wallets can verify transactions on the order of nanoseconds with SPV--also distributed because a client can get the intermediate block headers from any server. Querying data, like for DNS, has constraints different from verifying integrity, like for a ledger.

Sure, you can use a blockchain for storage, but who do you trust to do the lookups? It can't be on chain because it will be far too slow. You'd end up having to trust some entity like Cloudflare to run a DNS-on-blockchain node that stores the ground truth, going full circle back to regular DNS. What's the equivalent of SPV for DNS-on-blockchain where I can do and verify name resolution with limited resources?

In terms of access time, the standard would be O(1) for hashtables which would be my best guess at how to best represent an ip to domain mapping. Reading from on chain data is done locally (if you have your own node) and is near instant, but for wider reach I think DNS over HTTP would be needed or wasm clients that can be run in a browser.

Here is a possible implementation in Ethereum: https://medium.com/the-ethereum-name-service/ethdns-9d56298f...

Consider a timestamping service that's based on mathematical proof instead of social proof.[0]

But I agree, most often blockchain outside of a cryptocurrency doesn't make sense. This use case also depends on the security of an existing cryptocurrency.

[0] https://whycryptocurrencies.com/timestamping_service.html

Decentralized timestamping is literally what Bitcoin is, there's no other way of describing it. Ordering transactions canonically is timestamping.

My point is that you can leverage this by inserting extra data on a transaction, so you can timestamp any message.

A cryptocurrency is basically a timestamping service. This was mentioned in the original whitepaper.

> The solution we propose begins with a timestamp server. A timestamp server works by taking a hash of a block of items to be timestamped and widely publishing the hash, such as in a newspaper or Usenet post [2-5]. The timestamp proves that the data must have existed at the time, obviously, in order to get into the hash. Each timestamp includes the previous timestamp in its hash, forming a chain, with each additional timestamp reinforcing the ones before it.


The history of a second hand car is currently scattered all over the place, even with missing data. Some entities try to collect it all, but it is difficult.

Every car has a unique VIN, so imagine all data of the car is written to a blockchain. Maintenance, mileage, accidents, etc. When you buy a car, you check the blockchain and get a complete history, unable to tamper with afterwards.

Of course you have to trust the entities that write the info. But the more trustworthy entities, the harder a malicious entity can withhold or provide false info.

Sort of a silly assertion as what's baked into your question is.

"I'm waiting for a use case of blockchain outside assets"

Which there are plenty of entities using or applying blockchain tech as a means of tracking the immutable transfer of assets. That's a fairly large market place. Does it need to be more than that?

This shit isn't gonna cure cancer, tell you why you sometimes you have wondering sexual thoughts, or run your life for you.

It may be valuable for some applications.

The SAFE networks plans to use a Blockchain to create a fully decentralised internet storage solution seems like a reasonably good use case.


git's a blockchain. you have commits (blocks), which contain a hash of the previous commit (chain).

Blockchain (as in a Merkle tree with some way to decide on a particular path to a leaf as the canonical "correct" chain) is useful in plenty of things, eg git.

Blockchain as in the above with a decentralized decision function (proof-of-work, maybe proof-of-stake) is less likely to be useful outside cryptocurrency.

Typically when people talk about "blockchain" they mean the latter.

I think your analogy works better if branches are chains and commits are transactions.

Decentralized monetization of data and media. F* central brokers like facebook.

Identity looks like a potentially interesting use case.


This totally collapses for most real world uses of identity. If it's used for anything important then you need to be able to recover your identity if your house burns down with your keys inside or you lose your passphrase due to brain injury (or you just forget). You need centralization for most real-world uses of identity.

Could you have an identity where if the above happens you just start over? Yes, as long as it's not "too" expensive. But if you make it too cheap you risk Sybil attacks. So your identity system can't really be used for reputation. What's left? Not much IMO.

Timestamping use cases like 'I created this work of science/art at this time and I can prove it' are good, especially if you broker with an agent that can reliably and securely store keys. Identity is hard IMO.

> Could you have an identity where if the above happens you just start over?

Reading the W3 spec for Decentralised Identifiers is probably a bit dry, suggest looking into other sources on this matter.

Regardless the answer to your question is yes.

A lot of smart people have been working on this very thing for years.


decentralized cloud storage and hosting

Synaptic Health Alliance


The larger issue here is that the wallet was built in a very similar way to many crypto wallets. They sort of sell the fact that private keys are not stored in a central DB as a silver bullet for decentralization. But since the private keys are copied into memory, and the software is automatically updated, the location of the key storage becomes irrelevant.

The only real way to keep your keys safe is in a hardware based solution that has been audited by multiple parties. Our credit cards have that level of security, crypto wallets need at least that much.

I am laughing ... Laughing my b u double t off at this. In 2019 I spent too many hours debating crypto as currency replacement or substitute. Never bought it. But this is like m.pythons+galaxy hitch hiker+pink-panther level of crazy dumb.

The article says that the price of IOTA has gone up in the last 2 weeks. What does that mean? I don't see how people can be buying and selling IOTA if they are not able to send or receive it.

Because you can still buy and sell the coins on an exchange. It's just that you can't withdraw or deposit coins from your exchange account only trade between other exchange accounts. No wallet to wallet trades only trades of the coins sitting in the exchanges wallet (so basically trades on the exchanges private(non block chain related) ledgers rather than on the coins ledger).

Actually now that I think about it I wonder what liability the exchange has in this. Obviously the exchange can't send you your coins because it's physically impossible and the value is purely speculative but currently being given value only on the exchange. Would they need to reimburse you for the 'value' of the coins if you can't withdraw? Though if we're playing a game of silly buggers I guess the exchange could put up a sell for 0.000001 cents a coin, execute the trade and immediately freeze further transactions then claim any payout would be at the last traded value (which obviously wouldn't work as there are multiple exchanges). Perhaps they could 'give access' to the exchanges wallet key with instructions that the person trying to withdraw is entitled to take out their share of the coins thus it's the account holder who is 'in control' of the coins.

Tempting to buy. I bet some bullshitters are going to revitalize them.

Omg, I just lost my only crypto investment if this isn't fixed.

The amount I lost: 100 USD

You lost $71? That’s unfortunate. Should’ve bought more than $172 of IOTA.

No you lost the 100 USD when you purchased the IOTA. What you lost just recently was the IOTA.

Just reading this I can see you are new to crypto.

You did not lose 100 USD. You lost XXX MIOTA.

Weird distinction, is this a common thing in financial markets? Seems like he might have lost both if the network never comes back online.

If you're a stock trader and you buy $100 in a company that goes backrupt do you lose $100 or XXX stocks?

I bought monopoly money for 100 USD, hoping that they will become a thing. Then I lost my monopoly money. From my standpoint, all explanations are true, therefore irrelevant. I can no longer redeem my USD, 100 of them or less. 100 USD is gone during my gamble.

The responders are wrong about my proficiency with crypto. I've been following the tech and finance side of it since Bitcoin was worth 120 USD. I've written trade bots, some fun smart contracts and even participited in Dogecoin giveaway with some doge I mined.

If your cryptocoin is centralized, it's not really a cryptocoin, even if it's listed on a cryptocoin exchange.

Nano is another coin with properties similar to Iota that is actually decentralized.

(disclaimer: I hold some Nano)

In a bunch of the recent IOTA threads I've seen people shilling Nano. I'm slowly beginning to understand HN's allergy to cryptocurrencies.

And as always claims about cryptocurrencies should be taken with a grain of salt. Nano uses delegated proof-of-stake which has a questionable level of decentralization compared to proof-of-work coins like Bitcoin.

(But it's not as bad as IOTA of course.)

The thing about IOTA is that it's just a reflection of the entire economy which is founded on coercion, manipulation and deception; our economy has transcended reality and reason; particularly the tech sector.

There is nothing behind it but the lie is so strong and there are so many people peddling it that the market starts to believe its own lie.

It's funny how quickly some capitalists will discard cryptocurrencies as worthless junk while simultaneously preaching the doctrine of "efficient markets" and not realizing the simple fact that "real markets" and "cryptocurrency markets" both exist in the same universe and are acted upon by the same market forces.

It would be nice to read an attack on the technology rather than an article highlighting hater quotes on the feuding misogynist, ego-maniacal founders.

Iota remains a speculative cryptocurrency. It does not rely on the technology before it and is not a copy-paste crypto like many that came out of the last boom cycle.

I still think it is quite innovative. That said, it may eventually fail due to its poor implementation. The value of it on the exchanges reflects the fact that it may survive this latest fiasco.

The article does go into the flawed technology: the hilariously poorly thought out trits, the flawed internally developed hash, the centralized nature of the system, etc etc. IOTA is to technologically flawed that it's amazing that it's worth more than $0.

Not just more than $0, it has been in the top 10 cryptos by market cap for most of its history :(.

The trits are bizarre and introduce complexity but isn't necessarily a critical flaw. I don't see anything in the article about them. They rolled their own crypto, but later corrected it.

Indeed, it has had their centralized Coordinator with plans to decentralize. Is that a flaw? Maybe, but it's also a scaling issue.

The distributed proof of work is novel as well as the absence of centralized mining and transaction fees.

They "corrected" it when they were called out on it, while claiming it wasn't a problem, and also claiming they did it on purpose so that if someone "stole" their code they could attack and destroy anything someone else would create.

Truly bizarre bullshit.

I don't recall reading about their rationale that way. Only the unholy way in which they defended it, while swapping it out then sequestering all iota until claimed through centralized means.

Sadly, I don't think that the blind defense of flawed security is that bizarre and is all too common today.

That said, it was corrected and seems solid to date.

Solid? The entire ecosystem has been down for two weeks because it's a centralized shitcoin.

There's nothing "solid" about this. It's a scam.

And yes, that's exactly how they described it.

What's not solid about their current Kerl implementation?

It's a scam? Any link to how they are intentionally stealing money? I'd like to know how you know.

I don't have the time or inclination to engage with shills.

Read for yourself and make up your own mind.


> misogynist ... founders

Where you got that from?

From this:

"By 2019, members of the IOTA community earned a reputation for routinely harassing women security experts, like Open Privacy founder Sarah Jamie Lewis, who found flaws in IOTA research."

Fair enough that it's implicating the community and not the founders, but is in the same paragraph with the Sonstebo/Narula scandal.

I see that I did infer, but perhaps that was the intent.

So one unproven claim from one person, amplified by an author who has a clear intent to paint the project as bad.


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