The key to the technology seems to be https://ripple.com/wiki/Consensus, which is the problem Bitcoin elegantly solved. I like this solution as well. But Bitcoin is relatively battle hardened (both theoretically and in the field), and I trust the work I have seen done on the subject.
Is there some forum like bitcoin.stackexchange where I can ask/read theoretical questions of Ripple?
> which is the problem Bitcoin elegantly solved. I like this solution as well.
Why do you like it? The ripple model depends on picking trusted servers which cannot be controlled by the same party/common interests. The system cannot automatically pick trusted servers because there is no electronic way to determine independence, except the way that it currently works— fiat of the developers: they hardcode the servers.
To me it seems that when encountering the fundamental problem bitcoin solved, "How do you achieve a fair consensus when its cheap to make sibyls?" their response was to completely punt on the issue.
It's not cheap to make sibyls because you have to get people to trust you and there's no easy way to do that.
There are simple ways to gather lists of likely independent servers. For example, agencies you trust could publish such lists. You could pick three such lists and only trust organizations that appear on two of them.
And if you betray that trust, it will nearly always be easily detectable in an automated way. At that point, everyone will stop trusting you and you'll be back at zero. By contrast, if you accumulate 51% of the mining power, there's no easy way for people to take that away from you and make you start over.
> There are simple ways to gather lists of likely independent servers. For example, agencies you trust could publish such lists.
This isn't a procedure, it's a hand-wave. How do the agencies make their lists? And why should I trust them? If I can trust the agencies, why don't I just have them process all the transactions and then dispense with the inefficient global consensus stuff? What happens when courts order the agencies to direct people to processors who seize particular funds or block particular traffic? When the agency servers are hacked?