Fanboyism, maximalism, interoperabilty, working with others and division of time transcript
Hi everybody, this is Charles Hoskinson broadcasting live from warm sunny Colorado. I wanted to make a video about division of time. I've been recently making a lot of commentary on the ETC ecosystem. I've also reached out to other ecosystems like the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem, the Litecoin ecosystem for a variety of reasons and I noticed that there are some people in the comments and then telegram and twitter and other places say "oh no" focus 100% of your effort on Cardano! Why are you talking to ETC, why are you doing this and doing that? So first off I run a big company. I we have over 250 people. About half of those people wake up every day and they're involved in Cardano. The other half are not so. As the CEO of a company where you have that kind of division there's non-Cardano things I do. Cardano's our largest project, we're heavily involved in it and obviously we wake up every day and we want Cardano to be successful and have billions of users and this is why we are following the process we're following. We're building the technology we're building. It's why we work very hard trying to commercialize it. Every deal we do in Africa, every deal we do in eastern Europe, every deal we do in Asia, we have a Cardano first policy of deploying those deals on that platform and we built that platform to service those deals and as that platform evolves you'll see more use and utility from our sales channels in that respect. That said, one of the pillars of a third generation cryptocurrency is interoperability. It's kind of a silly thing to be a maximalist but then also talk about interoperability. What the hell is the point that? Either you want one chain to rule them all and therefore you don't care at all about talking to other systems or you put your money where your mouth is and you work on those other systems. You build expertise in those systems, you affect changes in those systems so that those systems can partner with our systems and work with our systems. You know the Samsung CEO? He has a division that every day gets up and works with Apple and they work on the motherboards of the iPhone and build memory for them. Do all kinds of cool things and Samsung's division knows what the iPhone is going to look like before any of us knows. At the same time, there's another division at Samsung that wakes up every day and works on phones like the Galaxy to compete with the iPhone. Great companies have the capacity to do these things and we are a great company in that respect we have different and dedicated teams for different products and projects. Now, we will never work on overlapping systems. It's not the case that we're going to have developers go and work on Cardano and something that's a direct competitor of Cardano because it makes no competitive sense for that to happen and I do not view ETC as a competitor of Cardano. It's a proof-of-work system, not a proof-of-stake system. It's a code-is-law system, not a world-financial operating system. It's a system that will always have a smaller group of people in it and always have a smaller set of things to do so time spent there with a completely separate team has no bearing or impact on our ability to deliver things with Cardano. I can't accelerate things above and beyond what the teams can do, for example, today. I'm waiting for Daedalus flight to come out. There is nothing I can do. I can't pick up the phone and call the engineers and say can you ship it 15 minutes faster. The plan, it's been set, the release manager is there, the QA, team's there, everybody knows what to do. There's consensus amongst that team. They're going off to the mountain top, get it done and when it's done they'll let me know and then I'll tweet "new Daedalus is out guys" go play with it and it gives me some work to do of course but until they finish their job there's nothing to do in that respect. The Cardano plans we have are well set , we know exactly what we need to do. Those teams are working hard and I do everything in my power to accelerate things where and when it's safe to do so and everything in my power to get things done. Shelley, for example. We worked so hard to get that out on July 29th, we had almost unlimited overtime. Everyone worked the weekend. Some people worked over 40 days straight to get that release done. Meanwhile half of the company was doing other things in other capacities and working on those projects. None of their work or the other cryptocurrencies we tend to work with had any bearing or impact on our ability to accelerate or decelerate the Shelley work stream. I just want to make sure everybody understands that and for people who have developed a maximalist mindset to get out of that maximalist mindset. There's a place for maximalism, it's called Bitcoin maximalism. If you live there, go there, okay and go believe in that project, in that chain but this is the Cardano ecosystem. It's going to literally work with hundreds if not thousands of different standards over its life. From central banks to other cryptocurrencies to legacy financial operators from the Chases of the world to the Goldman Sachs' of the world. Provisions will be made to build special hooks for these systems including interoperability with permission systems. It's very likely in the next 24 months Cardano will be talking to an instance of Hyperledger Fabric from IBM. Very likely that that's going to happen. It's very likely that we'll consult on a project that does that and no way does this diminish the road map or somehow make Cardano less competitive. It's actually quite the opposite. The fact that we can work with those systems, the fact that we can do things with those systems means that the platform as a whole is intrinsically more valuable. It's easier to sell to Fortune 500 companies. It's easier to get use utility and adoption because people understand that they're not being led down the road of vendor lock-in and regressing back to the old days of internet explorer or what ConsenSys is trying to do with Ethereum, trying to lock everybody into one standard, one system, rather the value proposition we offer. Is true interoperability the ability to move in and out? Furthermore, when you create partnerships with other ecosystems then their success is our success. For example, if the treasury system proposal succeeds in ETC they will be in the market for a permanent treasury system in 2021. We as a community can make the case that we've constructed with Voltaire is a great choice for them and of course we'll try to make that case and if it's successful we provide mutual value and benefit more volume and transactions and activity on the Cardano network, and for ETC they have a best-in-class treasury system that meets the values of that community. The exact same argument can be made for Litecoin, or for Bitcoin cash or for other systems and if you want to see the wrapped Litecoin video that I did earlier in the year it gives a great road map for a potential push there. Furthermore, what if we turn Daedalus into a multi-currency wallet? That's already going to happen because we have a multi-asset standard and so when people issue tokens on Cardano Daedalus will support those tokens sometime in the future. It would be very easy for us to pull Ethereum classic and Litecoin and Bitcoin cash and other ecosystems into the Daedalus wallet. What does that mean? It means that people who live in that ecosystem will be using our technology as their day-to-day experience in hosting for their token! What does that mean if we have a DEX built into that thing? It potentially could create more adoption in use and utility for ada and this is the point we accomplish so much more working together than beating each other down. I am damn tired of the cryptocurrency markets as they are. The fanboys, the trolls, the FUD, the maximalism, the relentless allegations that people you disagree with or hold different tokens are scammers or criminals or bad human beings. It's time we as an industry set this aside and grow up. Just grow up or else what's the point? Why would anybody looking from the outside at all of this chaos and noise and insanity and maximalism want to come play in this pool? It's like you're about to enter a bar and you see a bar fight. Do you keep going in or you turn around and walk away and say I don't want that trouble. I'm going to go down the street somewhere else that's safer and so how will we ever get mainstream adoption, how will we ever make the argument to governments that they should trust their elections, their property, perhaps even the money of their people on our systems if we're incapable of entertaining other ideas, other philosophies and other ecosystems? We don't deserve the right for that responsibility if we're not mature enough to have differences of opinion and be able to welcome other ecosystems into our own. So this video is a call against maximalism first and foremost and second it's a realization that the duties of an executive officer are extensive meaning that there are days I wake up and there are Ethereum days and, by the way, working in that ecosystem gives me and my company exhaustive knowledge on how Ethereum works which allows me then to build a better product than they have and understand where all the bodies are buried: all the flaws in the protocols, the security issues, the performance issues, the smart contract development experience. That intimacy is extremely important to be able to predict, react and also plan a competitive strategy that can take you in a different and better direction. You just don't live in a mono-culture. It's a bad deal, that's the second point. You have many projects. When you have a larger company, some of those projects are completely separate from each other. Some of those projects may have a bit of overlap. We have a philosophy that we don't work on competing products. For example we have done work with horizon (Horizon2020?) and as a consequence of doing work with them we're probably not going to work on zcash at the same time. As long as we have that relationship there we, for example, work on Cardano so we're not going to go work on another proof-of-stake system that wants to be a financial operating system. That would be a direct competitor. For example, Tezos would be happy to jointly author papers and coordinate collaboration but there needs to be a Cardano benefit in that relationship whereas ETC as I've mentioned is a totally different system and it's something that we have as a company historically worked on for years. We started our participation in 2016. We built a full client in that process. Did that have any impact on our ability to deliver Cardano? We had a completely separate engineering team. That team was actually sourced from external companies. Scalac and Atix Labs to begin with and then we built on top of it and it had different product and project management and it was completely written with a different group. So it might as well have been a different company for that matter and I just talked to the team but the Cardano team was doing its own thing so I I think we need to just cut it out. Cut out the maximalism, cut out this idea that there is only one truth. We live in a nuanced world and we live in a world of interoperability. We have to embrace that if we wish to be successful and let us be the adults in the room. Let's be the place where this isn't the bar fight and let's be the place that welcomes everybody. Furthermore, I've noticed some criticism from my own community. When people criticize us and they go to the politics of destruction or personal attacks or yield on criticizing people's intelligence or whatever have you... Cut that out too. Let's be a better community. I repeatedly call upon the Tezos foundation to tell its community to stop criticizing Cardano and calling it's "a scam project". So, I'll call upon my own community, I have seen things that shouldn't have happened. Certain members of Cardano community replying to people over twitter, replying to people who criticize us have resorted to personal attacks and so forth. Again, just ignore them , mute, let's embrace unity, let's embrace being better, yes, occasionally you got to kick people in the teeth especially when people are lying and what you do is you call them out on the lies that they've made. You specifically point out where they have done things that are a bit crazy or disingenuous and dishonest. For example, we had a meeting today with Ethereum classic and it was blatantly apparent to me that this process has been set up to fail and be exclusive and prevent alternative ideas from a certain power structure from being held. So, I made a 30-minute whiteboard video where I not only called it out but I proposed an alternative and said this is how we're going to transcend that process and get to a much more productive way of doing things. Some of the criticism we have is justified because of product delays or because people don't fully understand who we are and what we're trying to do and obviously there's history there. So, first and foremost, let's reply with facts. First and foremost let's reply with dignity and respect and empathy for the other person's position and you know what? If they continue to push forward then you kick him in the teeth and you say it's obvious you don't want to have a conversation. You're a troll, but to my community please do this and please have this level of respect and dignity with others and with each other. For example, we right now have a lot of debates with small stake pools versus large stake pools, there's plenty of people floating around with differences of opinion and our mantra should always be disagree without being disagreeable. People are going to have other values people, are gonna have differences of opinion and people are gonna have different perspectives. You can't change that reality nor should you. We all have the right to think and have differences of opinion but we also should expect a dialog that's fair and has empathy in it and so I call upon everybody to preserve that decorum as we move forward and also understand that some days we wake up we have to do things that are non-Cardano related in order for us all to be successful because not all the world will ever be Cardano related. We always need partners whether it be great pieces of hardware like Ledger and Trezor or exchanges to work with different wallets and sometimes those partners do stuff with us and sometimes those partners do things with other people. We have friends, we have projects we admire and respect. For example, I've expressed repeatedly great admiration for the Algorand project. I think they're doing a phenomenal job and they have great leadership with Silvio Micali. I think the research and the engineering there is top notch. I personally believe Cardano is better. That's because we built it and that's because we think we have a better strategy to market and ultimately the market's going to decide which standards to go with and whether it's going to be many standards or a consolidation. That's not my decision. I just have to wake up every day and fight for the things I believe in. That said, never once have we ever criticized Algorand because they are in essence the model of empathy and dignity and good communication and being very proactive at focusing on solutions when they make announcements. They make announcements about new things that they're doing and new partners that they have and never once have they ever criticized another project or engaged in fanboyism. That's a great community, that's a great project and it's a model for where the space should go and I admire that deeply and greatly especially when you contrast it with other projects that have been less empathetic in their history. We all have our problems, we all have our issues. I know that we all can be better and so that's my final point. Let's do that. Let's be better as an industry. Let's be a bit friendlier and let's invest the time and effort necessary to really understand and listen to each other because ultimately I think that's going to get us where we need to go and be able to get us to a point where we have that adoption of millions and billions of people and fundamentally change the fabric of society. Otherwise we will be victims of our own success and descend into tribalism and descend into sectarian violence and then ultimately destroy the entire industry because it will become co-opted by large companies who use a surface-level marketing to take the brand, take the notion of a blockchain but then install centralized authorities behind them and in which case we've lost. I don't want that to happen I want the movement to succeed. I want us to understand each other and I enjoy having great competitors sometimes working with them sometimes fighting them in the battle of the markets, in the markets of ideas and ultimately I think we as a community have a chance to also be a model for everyone else. So, let's do that. Thank you... Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXQrm18XhQ8
Mitch McConnell's Brother-in-Law One of the Masterminds of Trump-Russia
Jim Breyer, Mitch McConnell's brother-in-law, Facilitates Russia’s Takeover of Facebook through Yuri Milner In 2005 Jim Breyer, a partner at Accel Partners, invested $1 million of his own money into Facebook and gained a seat on the board (1). In Feb 2009 Jim Breyer visited Russia with a number of other Silicone Valley investors. While there, Yuri Milner, a Russian tech entrepreneur who founded DST with close ties to the Kremlin, hosted a dinner to cap the entire event (2). As one Moscow source put it:
DST has the backing of the big boys at the top in the Kremlin, which is why it will go from strength to strength (5)
Milner found out Breyer liked Impressionist art and took him to Russian’s Hermitage Museum to view Matisse paintings otherwise closed off to the public. Three months later Yuri Milner’s DST invested into Facebook at a bloated value. (2)
Mr Milner dismissed suggestions that at a valuation of $10bn he overpaid for his stake in Facebook, especially given that the social networking site has yet to prove it has turned to profit. (3) it’s seen as a desperate and rather vulgar deal on the one hand—Milner buying a small stake in Facebook, valuing the entire company at $10 billion—and, on the other, Facebook debasing itself by taking Russian money. Russian money! In fact, it seems rather like a desperate deal for both parties (in the midst of the banking crisis, Facebook has only two other bidders for this round—and none from the top VC tier) (4)
By the end of 2009, DST would own 10% of Facebook. Later revealed by the Paradise Papers, DST’s investments into Facebook were financed by the Russian government through state-owned Gazprom. That’s right, in 2009 Russia owned 10% of Facebook. (6) Soon after, the two continued to work together on other investments. Breyer introduced Milner to Groupon, and Milner helped Breyer’s Accel invest into Spotify (7). In 2010 an Accel representative joined a gaggle of Silicon Valley investors to Russia and signed a letter promising to invest into the country (8).
Jim Breyer and Rupert Murdoch Then in Nov 2010 Jim Breyer invested into Artsy.net, run by Rupert Murdoch’s then-wife, Wendi Deng, and Russia oligarch Roman Abramovich’s then-wife, Dasha Zhukova. Jared Kushner’s brother, Josh, also invested in the fledgling company (1). At the time Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation had a joint venture with the Russian mob-linked oligarch Boris Berezovsky, called LogoVaz News Corporation, that invested in Russian media (4). It was Berezovsky’s protege close to Putin, Roman Abramovich, who tied Berezovsky to the mob.
According to the Mirror Online, Abramovich paid Berezovsky tens, and even hundreds, of millions every year for "krysha", or mafia protection. (5)
In June 2011, Rupert Murdoch ended his foray into social media by selling Myspace to Justin Timberlake (2) and elected Jim Breyer to the board of News Corp (3).
Jim Breyer invests in Wickr with Erik Prince In 2012 Breyer invested in a encrypted messenger app, Wickr. Other investors include Gilman Louie and Erik Prince. To understand the connection, we need to go back to 1987. Breyer, newly hired to Accel Partners, made his first investment with Louie’s video game company that owned the rights to the Soviet Union’s first video game export, Tetris (1). Louie went off to become the founding CEO of the CIA-backed In-Q-Tel which invested in Palantir. Palantir’s founder, Peter Thiel, sat on the board of Facebook with Breyer (2)(3). On the board of In-Q-Tel is Buzzy Krongard (7), the man who helped Erik Prince’s Blackwater receive their first CIA contract, who also joined the board of Blackwater in 2007 (6). Around that same time, 2012-2013, Prince met Vincent Tchenguiz, founder of Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL (8), and was introduced to Cyrus Behbehani of Glencore, one of the purchasers of Rosneft stock detailed in the Steele Dossier (9). Cyrus Behbehani sat on the board of RusAl with Christophe Charlier, who is also Chairman of the board at Renaissance Capital (10), an early investor of DST (11).
Jim Breyer and Yuri Milner invest in Prismatic That same year, 2012, Jim Breyer invested in Prismatic, a news aggregate app, with Yuri Milner.
Prismatic’s technology works by crawling Facebook, Twitter and the web (“anything with a URL”) to find news stories. It then uses machine learning to categorize them by Topic and Publication. Prismatic users follow these Topics and Publications, as well as Individuals and the algorithm then uses these preferences and user-activity signals to present a relevant Newsfeed. (1)
Sounds like the beginning of what could be a propaganda dissemination tool. That goes in-line with Yuri Milner’s vision of Social Media. Milner’s theory:
“Zuckerberg’s Law”: Every 12 to 18 months the amount of information being shared between people on the web doubles... Over time people will bypass more general websites such as Google in favor of sites built atop social networks where they can rely on friends’ opinions to figure out where to get the best fall handbag, how to change a smoke detector, or whether to vacation in Istanbul or Rome. “You will pick your network, and the network will filter everything for you,” Milner explained. (2)
So how does Milner intend to utilize the data gathered through social media? Let’s see what Milner did to Russia’s top social media site, VK:
In January 2014, Durov sold his 12 percent stake to Ivan Tavrin, the CEO of major Russian mobile operator Megafon, whose second-largest shareholder is Alisher Usmanov, one of Russia’s most powerful oligarchs, a man who has long been lobbying to take over VK. Then, in April 2014, Durov stated he had sold his stake in the company and became a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis back in February after "coming under increasing pressure" from the Russian Federal Security Service to hand over personal details of users who were members of a VK group dedicated to the Euromaidan protest movement in Ukraine. (3)
The Euromaidan protest ousted the Russian-backed president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Paul Manafort had worked to install. (4)
Facebook talks US Elections with Russia In Oct 2012 Zuckerberg traveled to Moscow and met Dmitry Medvedev where they had a very interesting conversation:
Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Medvedev talked about Facebook’s role in politics, though only jokingly in reference to its importance in the American presidential campaign, according to Mr. Medvedev’s press office. (1)
While there he also visited Victor Vekselberg's Skolkovo, who’s currently under investigation by Mueller for donations to Trump (2).
As Obama’s effort to reboot diplomatic relations [with Russia] sputtered, federal officials began raising alarms about the Skolkovo Foundation’s ties to Putin. “The foundation may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research, development facilities and dual-use technologies” (3)
And took time to teach Russian's how to hack Facebook friend data, the same hack used by Cambridge Analytica, Donald Trump’s campaign data firm.
In a 2012 video, Facebook's Simon Cross shows the Moscow crowd how they can "get a ton of other information" on Facebook users and their friends. "We now have an access token, so now let's make the same request again and see what happens," Cross explains (YouTube). "We've got a little bit more data, but now we can start doing really interesting stuff. We can get my friends. We can get some more information about one of my friends. Here's Connor, who you'll meet later. Say 'hello,' Connor. He's waving. And we can also get a ton of other information as well." (4)
Facebook later hired the individual who hacked Facebook and sold the data to Cambridge Analytica (5). A month after that visit, Putin propaganda mouth-piece Konstantin Rykov, claims he began helping with Trump’s presidential aspirations (6). Days later, Trump registered “Make America Great Again” (7). The following year, Russia's Troll Factory, the Internet Research Agency, was created as was Cambridge Analytica.
Andrei Shleifer and Len Blavatnik Len Blavatnik, a US-Russian oligarch currently under investigation by Mueller, graduated from Harvard in 1989 and quickly formed Renova-Invest with Viktor Vekselberg, another oligarch under Mueller’s investigation (7)(8). Since then Blavatnik has maintained close ties to the university. In 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Andrei Shleifer led a consortium of Harvard professors to assist Russia’s vice-president, Antaoly Chubais, with the privatization of Russia’s state-run assets. Scandal broke when it was revealed Shleifer, through Blavatnik’s company and with Blavatnik’s guidance, invested in the very companies he worked to privatize. (6) Years later, Shleifer continued to fund loans to Blavatnik for Russian ventures through his hedge fund, managed by his wife, Nancy Zimmerman (9), and created the Russian Recovery Fund which bought $230 million of Russian debt from Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management (10), who’s seed fun, Tiger Global, later invested in Milner’s DST. Len Blavatnik and Viktor Vekselberg are major investors in Rusal (11). Schleifer is still a professor at Harvard.
Breyer and Harvard On April 2013, two months after Breyer was elected to the board of Harvard (1), Len Blavatnik, donated $50 million to the school (2) and joined the Board of Dean’s Advisors (3)(4) and Harvard’s Global Advisory Council (6) alongside Breyer. The next month Breyer announced plans to step down from the board of Facebook with an intention of focusing on his latest Harvard appointment (5). In 2016 Len Blavatnik donated over $7 million to GOP candidates, including $2.5 million to Mitch McConnell himself (7).
Breyer invests in Russian Companies In 2014 Breyer’s Accel Partners invested in Russian hotel booking site, Ostrovok, along with Yuri Milner, Esther Dyson (1), Mark Pincus, and Peter Thiel (2). Accel Partners also invested in Avito.ru in 2012 (3) and KupiVIP.ru in 2011 (4).
Jim Breyer, Blackstone Group, and Saudi Arabia In 2011 Schwarzman was named to the board of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (2), headed by Kirill Dimitriev. In June 2016, during Trump’s presidential campaign, Jim Breyer met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman, or MBS (8). The next month Breyer joined the board of Blackstone Group (1) alongside Stephen Schwarzman and Jacob Rothschild (3). In the past Blackstone Group had loaned Kushner Companies a combined $400 million over multiple projects (7). In the 2018 election cycle, Schwzarman donated $5 million to the pro-McConnell superPAC, Senate Majority PAC (13). Jacob’s brother, Nat, is business partners with both Oleg Deripaska (4), Rupert Murdoch, and Dick Cheney (5). Nat is also a major investor in Glencore, one of the purchasers of Rosneft stock detailed in the Steele Dossier (6), and RusAl. In January 2017, Breyer’s business partner at Wickr, Erik Prince, was introduced to Dimitriev by MBS’s emissary, George Nader, and the Crown Prince of the UAE (10). On October 22, 2018, three weeks after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, when most American investors were spooked away from Saudi Arabia, Jim Breyer showed up at an MBS-hosted Saudi business summit alongside Kirill Dimitriev of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (9). That same day, MBS pledged $20 billion for Blackstone Group's new infrastructure fund (11) to fund Elaine Chao's $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan (12). Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnells wife and Jim Breyer's sister-in-law, is Trump's Secretary of Transportation.
The Bear Market is in full swing, but this irks me...
What frustrates me the most about all of this is that once the crypto-market has bottomed out, the parties involved will likely never acknowledge that perhaps they were delusional to begin with. They won't acknowledge that deflation isn't the answer to all economic problems or that the reason a child starves somewhere in the third world isn't because we use fiat instead of Bitcoin. They will still believe that if we had all not conspired against decentralization and blockchain, they would have shot to the moon and we'd all have free internet, lambos, and our mortgages would all cease to exist. I see the butter blame going to a few places instead, all of which are undeserving. They are as follows: The Conspiracy Targets: The Rothschilds, George Soros, "They", etc. Reality: You're probably just an anti-semite who doesn't have the patience or diligence for research beyond blog blurbs and Twitter. The Whales: JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Wall Street traders, etc. Reality: These people love money. They don't care if its gold, paper or crypto. If they thought switching from dollars to Dogecoin would boost their bottom line by 1% and get them a bigger bonus, they would do it in a heartbeat. Traditional Media: CNN, CNBC, etc. Reality:As someone who watches the traditional news, particularly the financial news, at work on the regular, I can say that CNBC spends probably as much if not more time each day discussing cryptocurrency than they do the bond market. The global bond market is nearing 100 Trillion dollars and Crypto at its absolute peak never cleared 1 trillion and is now less than a quarter trillion. From a non-butter perspective it would seem that the media LOVES to talk crypto because its much sexier than say, municipal bond yields. It gets clicks and eyeballs and thats all the media cares about. /buttcoin: They think we're a powerful cabal bent on lol'ing butts into oblivion Reality: They might be onto something with this one.
Hi Bitcoiners! I’m back with the 21st monthly Bitcoin news recap. For those unfamiliar, each day I pick out the most popularelevant/interesting stories in Bitcoin and save them. At the end of the month I release them in one batch, to give you a quick (but not necessarily the best) overview of what happened in bitcoin over the past month. You can see recaps of the previous months on Bitcoinsnippets.com A recap of Bitcoin in September 2018
How does the Blockchain Technology Change the Finance?
01 Through Cross-Border Payment , New Asset Types and other Regulatory Compliance Many large banks, central banks, financial institutions, idea banks, inquiry companies and the futurology reasearch laboratory of government committee all raise their questions on this issue. R3CEV, an organization which is composed of the large banks in the globe, is trying to make explanation on this issue. The Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and Consumers’ Research had been put forward fabulous reports based on this issue, while the UK government, the US senate, Canada, Australia and European Union also carry out related surveys on it. Many startup companies has made the white paper for the innovation and application of blockchain technologies, among which will mention a larger social issue, “How does this technology change the society?” Plenty of studies underline the following four major changed fields: 02 The Infrastructure of Cross-Border Transactions As we all know, the digital revolution has changed the media thoroughly, which will also have influence on the financial industry to some degree. Besides, the financial organizations had been used the computer long before. From 1970s to 1980s, they set the computer as their databases, take advantage of the computer to create the website interface in 1990s and shift their focus on developing the mobile App in 21rst century. However, the digital revolution has little influence on the cross-border transaction. The West Union still remains big problems, since it uses the same business to operation related programs. Like the easy operation of cross-border remittance, the bank still use the complicated infrastructure to operate it. The information chart below is provided by Richard Gendal Brown, it displays the development of cross-border business infrastructure and intermediary organs from 1970s till now. This structure is the outcome caused by the financial industry applying the high-security protection system on private database. The Blockchain technology is to construct the direct relation between the financial institutions and does not need the correspondent banking any more. The main product of R3 aims at deal with the business of correspondent banking. Corda is consisted of two vocabulary “accord” and cord. In the case of Corda, the circle is composed by the banks which uses the shared account book and those banks use the shared account book to deal with the transactions, agreement and important documents. Mr. Brown used to work in the IBM’s Blockchain project and then shift to the R3CEV. The competition between financial organizations can use the universal database to track the implement of transactions, liquidation and clearing without involving any central database or management system. In a nutshell, banks will be able to formalize and protect each other’s digital relationships in the way that were previously impossible to implement. In the description mentioned above, it means that the correspondent banking agreements and the Real Time Gross Settlement, RTGS will be replaced. Transactions can be carried out in the P2P smoothly. Ripple, a private link, is used to solve many of these issues. c As a Classification Digital Asset Bitcoin has created some special things: digital property. Before the Bitcoin, word “digital” is not rare. Any digitization stuff can be copied through a click button and it can be proved in the musical industry and album sales. However, bitcoin does something fancy: it create a digital code that can’t be copied. Therefore, since the invention of the bit character, we have the way to copy the number for the first time, which gives the digital code a kind of value. Until now, the value bitcoin is based on the blockchain to prevent the double cost and fake coin. Concerning this point, the creator of blockchain create the coloured coins as company’s shares. The 'color' of these coins represents the ownership information provided by the private encryption key. After the permission of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, the online retailer giant Overstock declare that Announced that it will publicly issue company shares on its own blockchain platform. We also saw the emergence of “Initial Coin Offering (ICO)” and “appcoins” (the native cryptocurrency of applications used to assist project development financing). This case are part of blockchain digital asset. Blockchain can be considered as the digital asset as well as the market operation itself. Basically, this digital asset can be regarded as the bearer instrument, a extensive and ingenious application. 04 Management and Market For the regulators, the blockchain can be a completely transparent and suitable recording system. Once coded, they can also be used to authorize transactions that comply with regulatory filings. For example, banks have strict reporting obligations to institutions such as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). As long as the bank approves any transaction that exceeds $10,000, it will need to report it to FinCEN, and FinCEN will store the information as an anti-money laundering database. 06 Clearing and settlement For the paper world transactions, the time frame for clearing and settlement transactions is usually “T+3” - that is, three days after the transaction. Through blockchain technology, the entire trading cycle—execution, clearing, and settlement—can occur in the same step. Under digital assets, transactions mean settlement, and mastery of encryption keys and digital ownership, which can reduce post-trade latency and counterparty risk of the other party's non-compliance. 07 Accounting and auditing Although most databases are snapshots at a certain point in time, the blockchain database is constructed based on its own transaction history. They are a database with context, history, and independent records. This has far-reaching implications for accounting and auditing.
Blockchain in Banking & Financial Service Banking is mainly one of the most centralized and opaque industries, making the legacy financial ecosystem a prime target for Blockchain adoption. In the original Bitcoin white paper, cryptocurrency is labelled as a Peer to Peer (P2P) electronic cash system, highlighting the potential blockchain technology holds to transform the current financial ecosystem. Various characteristics of Blockchain such as decentralized, immutable, and transparency make it appealing for the banking and finance industries. The banking and finance sector is prone to errors and frauds being operating on the basis of highly dependent manual networks. This could lead to a crippled money-management system. As per Global Fintech Report 2017, 77% of Fintech institutes expect to adopt blockchain as part of an in-production system or process by 2020.
One of the most talked-about topics today is Blockchain in Banking & Financial Services. If fully adopted, it will enable banks & financial institutions to process payments more quickly and more accurately while reducing transaction processing costs. All major banks are looking to adopt blockchain which could be used for money transfers, record keeping, and other back-end operations. Traditional banks are highly aware of the potential blockchain technology holds to disrupt the financial sector. Major international banks — such as JPMorgan, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs — are already heavily invested in the blockchain industry. The impact of Blockchain Technology in the Banking Sector is quite apparent. More than 1.7 billion individuals around the world currently lack access to basic banking or financial services as per the data released by the World Bank. Further studies were done by the World Bank showcase that blockchain technology holds powerful potential for promoting financial inclusion to the unbanked and underbanked.
Blockchain in Banking & Financial Services – Use Cases
Now, let’s briefly look at some practical use-cases for Blockchain in Banking & Financial Services industry: Fraud Reduction 45% of financial intermediaries like money transfer services and stock exchanges are prone to financial frauds routinely. Blockchain technology would help to get rid of some of the current crimes committed online against financial institutions. Know your Customer (KYC) Banks and Financial institutions spend anywhere from $60 million to $500 million yearly to process Know your Customer (KYC) and customer due diligence regulations as per a Thomson Reuters Survey. Blockchain would allow an organization to access the verification details of a client by another organization, thus avoiding repetition of the KYC process & reduction in administrative costs. Smart Contracts Smart contracts would be helpful in increasing the speed and simplifying complex processes when used for financial transactions. A Smart Contract will also ensure the transfer of accurate information as the transaction will be validated only if all the written conditions of the code are met. Clearing and Settlement The web network that records financial transactions costs investment banks billions of dollars to run. According to Accenture, the biggest investment banks could save $10bn by bringing in blockchain technology to improve the efficiency of clearing & settlement. Trade Finance Trade Finance which is paper-intensive is considered to be the most powerful application of blockchain. The electronic decentralized ledger that gives all the participants, including banks, the ability to access a single source of information and allows them to track all documentation and validation of ownership of assets digitally. Payments Blockchain brings higher security with minimal lower costs to process payment between organizations and their clients and even between banks themselves. It would eliminate all the intermediaries in the payment processing system.
Public blockchain specifically is a globally distributed ledger system. Its public & permission-less network is free and open for anyone to join, read, and write. Entire data is hosted on public servers. So, anonymity and data-privacy are significant challenges to be managed. In many aspects, the banking and financial industry stands on private, mission-critical and sensitive data. Very few aspects of this industry, apart from their promotional brochures, can probably fit into the world of public blockchains. On the other hand, Private and Permissioned Blockchain seem to be tailor-made for the financial industry with a built-in access-control mechanism. This indicates that only authorized personnel can join, read or write to this network. Depending on how we tune the access control, this can become a very powerful tool with trustworthiness and scalability to bounce. Private and Permissioned blockchain. Does this sound a lot like a fancy name for a distributed ledger technology? No, it’s not. The value a privately managed, fully-permissioned blockchain brings over traditional databases is integrity through cryptographically signed history. Conclusion In the current times, Blockchain as technology is getting well worth the attention in the financial sector which is beyond bitcoin bubble. If we take a practical approach, carefully study the design and performance characteristics of each blockchain implementation, it can turn out to be a game-changer to use in Blockchain in Banking & Financial Services industry. Moreover, some of the organizations are also investing heavily in such researches and tests conducted by startups to develop solutions based on the blockchain. With Private and Permissioned Blockchain entering the current scenario, a lot of problems could be solved while making the financial system more transparent, easy to access and reliable.
Man is crypto fun. Over the last while I have never enjoyed an online community more than this one. It’s insightful, intelligent, passionate, good natured and at times completely hilarious. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s all I have read about recently. I think blockchain and crypto has the potential to disrupt the world economy even more than the Internet. I am a real believer in it. It solves real world problems, the finance industry is the only one left to not be revolutionized by tech. I think this technology will completely revolutionize everything, I also think it’s a bubble and that new people need to be careful. Most people who say crypto is a bubble in the main stream media do so because they don’t believe in or understand the technology or its future applications. At time of writing the current market cap of bitcoin and ether is around 60 billion. Recently for a time those two combined were in the 80 billion range, the same as Goldman Sachs. Yes real world applications are happening, but they are still in their infancy. They are not on the scale that would validate a lot of the current prices. The utility for these technologies is amazing. But the price at the moment is moving in tandem with the perception of what that utility will be, rather than what the tech is actually doing today. Passionate people who really believe in bitcoin, who really think its going to change everything, just hodl. That’s how you show your dedication, loyalty and faith in it. You believe in its utility by not using it. The price should move in tandem with its usage and day-to-day value it creates for consumers. Its a great ‘store of value’ for some, but that’s not why it was built? To gain true value people need to use it. But with the volatility in price you would also be a bit crazy to spend it. Its a bit of a double edged sword. You never know what the price of the crpyto you just spent will be worth tomorrow, pizza anyone? There were more transactions per day in bitcoin on the 14th of October 2016 than there were on the 26th of July 2017. The comparing values were $630 in Oct 2016 and $2,550 today. (Granted segwit FUD may have influence, but still…) If someone tells you bitcoin is a fad and the bubble will pop. Don’t combine those two points just because they don’t understand how wonderful it is, it doesn’t mean they are wrong, don’t associate one with the other. It can accomplish all the things bitcoin believers preach about, but it will probably burst first, and then change the world a little while later. Compare the dot.com bubble. People believed in what the internet could do for the world, but they got carried away with investing in white papers. It is almost identical. The technology, theory and vision was sound, and it eventually happened but after a massive crash. Below are the criteria investor Mark Howard defines as factors that ‘give us a bull market, all of them together will deliver a boom or bubble’.
A benign environment — Good results lull investors in complacency, as they get used to having their positive expectations rewarded. Gains in the recent past encourage the heated pursuit of further gains in the future.
Verdict: Despite the usual rollarcoaster ride of crypto, over time the prices have moved in one direction.
A grain of truth — the story supporting a boom isn't created out of whole cloth; it generally coalesecs around something real. The seed usually isn’t imaginary, just eventually overblown.
Verdict: The tech is sound, the usage isn’t there yet.
Early success — the gains enjoyed by ‘wise men in the beginning’ — the first to seize upon the the grain of truth — tends to attract ‘the fool at the end’ who jumps in too late.
Verdict: Lambos anyone?
More money than ideas — when cap is in over supply, it is inevitable that risk aversion drives up, gullibility expands, and investment standards are relaxed.
Verdict: Ideas are never short in crypto land, but due to success people have become more confident and are more likely to invest in white papers.
Willing suspension of disbelief — the quest for gains overcomes prudence and deference to history. Everyone concludes ‘this times its different’. No story is too good to be true.
Verdict: BUT THIS TIME IT WILL BE DIFFERENT.
Rejection of valuation norms — all we hear is ‘the asset is so great: there’s no price too high” Buying into a fad regardless of price is a hallmark of a bubble.
Verdict: The moon isn’t that high though really when you think about it… right?
The pursuit of the new — Old timers fare worse in a boom, with the gains going disproportionately to those who are untrammeled by knowledge of the past and thus able to buy into an entirely new future.
Verdict: Crytpo is swarming with new investors and idiots like myself.
The virtuous circle — no one can see any end to the potential of the underlying truth of how high it can push the prices of related assets. Its broadly accepted that the trees can grow to the sky: “It can only go up. Nothing can stop it” Certainly no one can picture things taking a turn for the worse.
Verdict: A lot of articles talk about how bitcoin could reach $1 million. It's possible, but they never really mention how if it ever does - you'll probably be long dead.
Fear of missing out - When all the above becomes widespread, optimism prevails and no one can imagine a glitch. That causes most people to conclude that the greatest potential error lies in failing to participate in the current market darling.
Verdict:hmm... In 2001 Howard compared the huge surge in Radio stock to the dot.com bubble, implying it would also burst. In mid 1927 the radio industry leader at the time was RCA, its stock rose from $8 dollars to $114 in mid 1929. “25 years after the 1929 peak, when the depression and WWII were well over and the post-war recovery underway, RCA’s stock had yet to gain back to a third of its earlier high. The times, the industries and the companies are certainly different today, but it makes on wonder whether investors aren’t again overpaying for the ability to change the world.” He was right. I think digital currencies and assets will change the world, but people are investing in the pipe dream rather than its day to day use and growth of that use and adaptation. I think the price will rise after August 1st for a while, maybe even reach new all time highs. This will be purely driven on speculation and the media narrative that the divide in Bitcoin community is no longer present. Then I think we will see a decline past the usual support found at $1,800 within the next year. People give advice to newbs here about diversifying your risk across different investments. Researching and buying different coins. The one thing investor Bruce Kovner, worth over 5 billion, said was to diversify across different industries. Buying across crypto is risky, we have seen how a lot of the time coins prices follow each other. I am not trying to be negative, I just think people are clouded by the amazing capabilities of this tech. It will change the world. But so did radio and so did the Internet. Both were bubbles. Just because the tech will blow your mind when you read about it, doesn't mean putting your life savings in it is a good idea. Especially this week. For the record, I own bitcoin, ether, litecoin, xrp, ant shares, vertcoin. Be careful out there.
The entrepreneur Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla and SpaceX has said that bitcoin’s structure is “quite brilliant” and that digital currency is “a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper.” He made his statement on an Ark Invest podcast yesterday, answering a question about whether Bitcoin would become the only native cryptocurrency of the Internet, a view supported by Jack Dorsey. Dorsey said earlier this month that “[Bitcoin] feels it’s the one that wants to be currency the most, versus others that are doing more general purpose things or distributed computing […] I think [the altcoin space] has generated some really amazing ideas, but I’m focused on currency and the transactional aspect.” Mike Novogratz is another who thinks bitcoin is digital gold. The former Goldman Sachs partner and founder of crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital, said that “Bitcoin is going to be digital gold, a place where you have sovereign money, it’s not US money, it’s not Chinese money, it’s sovereign. Sovereignty costs a lot, it should.” Musk thinks that the only downside of bitcoin is that it uses a lot of energy to mine it and thinks there should be some constraints on that aspect of it. Referring to this, Musk stressed that “it would not be a good use of Tesla resources to get involved in crypto. We’re just really trying to accelerate the advance of sustainable energy.” He added, “cryptocurrency bypasses currency controls […] paper money is going away, and crypto is a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper, that’s for sure.” Elon Musk isn’t known for his crypto holdings. Last year he tweeted that he only had 0.25BTC, which was a gift from a friend many years ago.
Is anyone else freaked out by this whole blocksize debate? Does anyone else find themself often agreeing with *both* sides - depending on whichever argument you happen to be reading at the moment? And do we need some better algorithms and data structures?
Why do both sides of the debate seem “right” to me? I know, I know, a healthy debate is healthy and all - and maybe I'm just not used to the tumult and jostling which would be inevitable in a real live open major debate about something as vital as Bitcoin. And I really do agree with the starry-eyed idealists who say Bitcoin is vital. Imperfect as it may be, it certainly does seem to represent the first real chance we've had in the past few hundred years to try to steer our civilization and our planet away from the dead-ends and disasters which our government-issued debt-based currencies keep dragging us into. But this particular debate, about the blocksize, doesn't seem to be getting resolved at all. Pretty much every time I read one of the long-form major arguments contributed by Bitcoin "thinkers" who I've come to respect over the past few years, this weird thing happens: I usually end up finding myself nodding my head and agreeing with whatever particular piece I'm reading! But that should be impossible - because a lot of these people vehemently disagree! So how can both sides sound so convincing to me, simply depending on whichever piece I currently happen to be reading? Does anyone else feel this way? Or am I just a gullible idiot? Just Do It? When you first look at it or hear about it, increasing the size seems almost like a no-brainer: The "big-block" supporters say just increase the blocksize to 20 MB or 8 MB, or do some kind of scheduled or calculated regular increment which tries to take into account the capabilities of the infrastructure and the needs of the users. We do have the bandwidth and the memory to at least increase the blocksize now, they say - and we're probably gonna continue to have more bandwidth and memory in order to be able to keep increasing the blocksize for another couple decades - pretty much like everything else computer-based we've seen over the years (some of this stuff is called by names such as "Moore's Law"). On the other hand, whenever the "small-block" supporters warn about the utter catastrophe that a failed hard-fork would mean, I get totally freaked by their possible doomsday scenarios, which seem totally plausible and terrifying - so I end up feeling that the only way I'd want to go with a hard-fork would be if there was some pre-agreed "triggering" mechanism where the fork itself would only actually "switch on" and take effect provided that some "supermajority" of the network (of who? the miners? the full nodes?) had signaled (presumably via some kind of totally reliable p2p trustless software-based voting system?) that they do indeed "pre-agree" to actually adopt the pre-scheduled fork (and thereby avoid any possibility whatsoever of the precious blockchain somehow tragically splitting into two and pretty much killing this cryptocurrency off in its infancy). So in this "conservative" scenario, I'm talking about wanting at least 95% pre-adoption agreement - not the mere 75% which I recall some proposals call for, which seems like it could easily lead to a 75/25 blockchain split. But this time, with this long drawn-out blocksize debate, the core devs, and several other important voices who have become prominent opinion shapers over the past few years, can't seem to come to any real agreement on this. Weird split among the devs As far as I can see, there's this weird split: Gavin and Mike seem to be the only people among the devs who really want a major blocksize increase - and all the other devs seem to be vehemently against them. But then on the other hand, the users seem to be overwhelmingly in favor of a major increase. And there are meta-questions about governance, about about why this didn't come out as a BIP, and what the availability of Bitcoin XT means. And today or yesterday there was this really cool big-blockian exponential graph based on doubling the blocksize every two years for twenty years, reminding us of the pure mathematical fact that 210 is indeed about 1000 - but not really addressing any of the game-theoretic points raised by the small-blockians. So a lot of the users seem to like it, but when so few devs say anything positive about it, I worry: is this just yet more exponential chart porn? On the one hand, Gavin's and Mike's blocksize increase proposal initially seemed like a no-brainer to me. And on the other hand, all the other devs seem to be against them. Which is weird - not what I'd initially expected at all (but maybe I'm just a fool who's seduced by exponential chart porn?). Look, I don't mean to be rude to any of the core devs, and I don't want to come off like someone wearing a tinfoil hat - but it has to cross people's minds that the powers that be (the Fed and the other central banks and the governments that use their debt-issued money to run this world into a ditch) could very well be much more scared shitless than they're letting on. If we assume that the powers that be are using their usual playbook and tactics, then it could be worth looking at the book "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" by John Perkins, to get an idea of how they might try to attack Bitcoin. So, what I'm saying is, they do have a track record of sending in "experts" to try to derail projects and keep everyone enslaved to the Creature from Jekyll Island. I'm just saying. So, without getting ad hominem - let's just make sure that our ideas can really stand scrutiny on their own - as Nick Szabo says, we need to make sure there is "more computer science, less noise" in this debate. When Gavin Andresen first came out with the 20 MB thing - I sat back and tried to imagine if I could download 20 MB in 10 minutes (which seems to be one of the basic mathematical and technological constraints here - right?) I figured, "Yeah, I could download that" - even with my crappy internet connection. And I guess the telecoms might be nice enough to continue to double our bandwidth every two years for the next couple decades – if we ask them politely? On the other hand - I think we should be careful about entrusting the financial freedom of the world into the greedy hands of the telecoms companies - given all their shady shenanigans over the past few years in many countries. After decades of the MPAA and the FBI trying to chip away at BitTorrent, lately PirateBay has been hard to access. I would say it's quite likely that certain persons at institutions like JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs and the Fed might be very, very motivated to see Bitcoin fail - so we shouldn't be too sure about scaling plans which depend on the willingness of companies Verizon and AT&T to double our bandwith every two years. Maybe the real important hardware buildout challenge for a company like 21 (and its allies such as Qualcomm) to take on now would not be "a miner in every toaster" but rather "Google Fiber Download and Upload Speeds in every Country, including China". I think I've read all the major stuff on the blocksize debate from Gavin Andresen, Mike Hearn, Greg Maxwell, Peter Todd, Adam Back, and Jeff Garzick and several other major contributors - and, oddly enough, all their arguments seem reasonable - heck even Luke-Jr seems reasonable to me on the blocksize debate, and I always thought he was a whackjob overly influenced by superstition and numerology - and now today I'm reading the article by Bram Cohen - the inventor of BitTorrent - and I find myself agreeing with him too! I say to myself: What's going on with me? How can I possibly agree with all of these guys, if they all have such vehemently opposing viewpoints? I mean, think back to the glory days of a couple of years ago, when all we were hearing was how this amazing unprecedented grassroots innovation called Bitcoin was going to benefit everyone from all walks of life, all around the world:
wealthy individuals trying to preserve and transport their wealth across space and across time
iPhone and Android users who want to buy a latte on their smartphone at Starbucks
Venezuelans and Argentinians and Cypriots and Russian oligarchs and Greeks and anyone else whose state-backed currency sucks
unbanked Africans who will someday be texting around money via SMS messages on their cellphones
online content providers who will finally be able to get paid via micropayments
smart contracts and stock brokering and lawyering and land deeding and the refrigerator calling out to order more milk and distributed anonymous corporations (DACs) automatically negotiating and adjusting driverless taxicab fares in the Uber-future of the Internet of Things
...basically the entire human race transacting everything into the blockchain. (Although let me say that I think that people's focus on ideas like driverless cabs creating realtime fare markets based on supply and demand seems to be setting our sights a bit low as far as Bitcoin's abilities to correct the financial world's capital-misallocation problems which seem to have been made possible by infinite debt-based fiat. I would have hoped that a Bitcoin-based economy would solve much more noble, much more urgent capital-allocation problems than driverless taxicabs creating fare markets or refrigerators ordering milk on the internet of things. I was thinking more along the lines that Bitcoin would finally strangle dead-end debt-based deadly-toxic energy industries like fossil fuels and let profitable clean energy industries like Thorium LFTRs take over - but that's another topic. :=) Paradoxes in the blocksize debate Let me summarize the major paradoxes I see here: (1) Regarding the people (the majority of the core devs) who are against a blocksize increase: Well, the small-blocks arguments do seem kinda weird, and certainly not very "populist", in the sense that: When on earth have end-users ever heard of a computer technology whose capacity didn't grow pretty much exponentially year-on-year? All the cool new technology we've had - from hard drives to RAM to bandwidth - started out pathetically tiny and grew to unimaginably huge over the past few decades - and all our software has in turn gotten massively powerful and big and complex (sometimes bloated) to take advantage of the enormous new capacity available. But now suddenly, for the first time in the history of technology, we seem to have a majority of the devs, on a major p2p project - saying: "Let's not scale the system up. It could be dangerous. It might break the whole system (if the hard-fork fails)." I don't know, maybe I'm missing something here, maybe someone else could enlighten me, but I don't think I've ever seen this sort of thing happen in the last few decades of the history of technology - devs arguing against scaling up p2p technology to take advantage of expected growth in infrastructure capacity. (2) But... on the other hand... the dire warnings of the small-blockians about what could happen if a hard-fork were to fail - wow, they do seem really dire! And these guys are pretty much all heavyweight, experienced programmers and/or game theorists and/or p2p open-source project managers. I must say, that nearly all of the long-form arguments I've read - as well as many, many of the shorter comments I've read from many users in the threads, whose names I at least have come to more-or-less recognize over the past few months and years on reddit and bitcointalk - have been amazingly impressive in their ability to analyze all aspects of the lifecycle and management of open-source software projects, bringing up lots of serious points which I could never have come up with, and which seem to come from long experience with programming and project management - as well as dealing with economics and human nature (eg, greed - the game-theory stuff). So a lot of really smart and experienced people with major expertise in various areas ranging from programming to management to game theory to politics to economics have been making some serious, mature, compelling arguments. But, as I've been saying, the only problem to me is: in many of these cases, these arguments are vehemently in opposition to each other! So I find myself agreeing with pretty much all of them, one by one - which means the end result is just a giant contradiction. I mean, today we have Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent, arguing (quite cogently and convincingly to me), that it would be dangerous to increase the blocksize. And this seems to be a guy who would know a few things about scaling out a massive global p2p network - since the protocol which he invented, BitTorrent, is now apparently responsible for like a third of the traffic on the internet (and this despite the long-term concerted efforts of major evil players such as the MPAA and the FBI to shut the whole thing down). Was the BitTorrent analogy too "glib"? By the way - I would like to go on a slight tangent here and say that one of the main reasons why I felt so "comfortable" jumping on the Bitcoin train back a few years ago, when I first heard about it and got into it, was the whole rough analogy I saw with BitTorrent. I remembered the perhaps paradoxical fact that when a torrent is more popular (eg, a major movie release that just came out last week), then it actually becomes faster to download. More people want it, so more people have a few pieces of it, so more people are able to get it from each other. A kind of self-correcting economic feedback loop, where more demand directly leads to more supply. (BitTorrent manages to pull this off by essentially adding a certain structure to the file being shared, so that it's not simply like an append-only list of 1 MB blocks, but rather more like an random-access or indexed array of 1 MB chunks. Say you're downloading a film which is 700 MB. As soon as your "client" program has downloaded a single 1-MB chunk - say chunk #99 - your "client" program instantly turns into a "server" program as well - offering that chunk #99 to other clients. From my simplistic understanding, I believe the Bitcoin protocol does something similar, to provide a p2p architecture. Hence my - perhaps naïve - assumption that Bitcoin already had the right algorithms / architecture / data structure to scale.) The efficiency of the BitTorrent network seemed to jive with that "network law" (Metcalfe's Law?) about fax machines. This law states that the more fax machines there are, the more valuable the network of fax machines becomes. Or the value of the network grows on the order of the square of the number of nodes. This is in contrast with other technology like cars, where the more you have, the worse things get. The more cars there are, the more traffic jams you have, so things start going downhill. I guess this is because highway space is limited - after all, we can't pave over the entire countryside, and we never did get those flying cars we were promised, as David Graeber laments in a recent essay in The Baffler magazine :-) And regarding the "stress test" supposedly happening right now in the middle of this ongoing blocksize debate, I don't know what worries me more: the fact that it apparently is taking only $5,000 to do a simple kind of DoS on the blockchain - or the fact that there are a few rumors swirling around saying that the unknown company doing the stress test shares the same physical mailing address with a "scam" company? Or maybe we should just be worried that so much of this debate is happening on a handful of forums which are controlled by some guy named theymos who's already engaged in some pretty "contentious" or "controversial" behavior like blowing a million dollars on writing forum software (I guess he never heard that reddit.com software is open-source)? So I worry that the great promise of "decentralization" might be more fragile than we originally thought. Scaling Anyways, back to Metcalfe's Law: with virtual stuff, like torrents and fax machines, the more the merrier. The more people downloading a given movie, the faster it arrives - and the more people own fax machines, the more valuable the overall fax network. So I kindof (naïvely?) assumed that Bitcoin, being "virtual" and p2p, would somehow scale up the same magical way BitTorrrent did. I just figured that more people using it would somehow automatically make it stronger and faster. But now a lot of devs have started talking in terms of the old "scarcity" paradigm, talking about blockspace being a "scarce resource" and talking about "fee markets" - which seems kinda scary, and antithetical to much of the earlier rhetoric we heard about Bitcoin (the stuff about supporting our favorite creators with micropayments, and the stuff about Africans using SMS to send around payments). Look, when some asshole is in line in front of you at the cash register and he's holding up the line so they can run his credit card to buy a bag of Cheeto's, we tend to get pissed off at the guy - clogging up our expensive global electronic payment infrastructure to make a two-dollar purchase. And that's on a fairly efficient centralized system - and presumably after a year or so, VISA and the guy's bank can delete or compress the transaction in their SQL databases. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but if some guy buys a coffee on the blockchain, or if somebody pays an online artist $1.99 for their work - then that transaction, a few bytes or so, has to live on the blockchain forever? Or is there some "pruning" thing that gets rid of it after a while? And this could lead to another question: Viewed from the perspective of double-entry bookkeeping, is the blockchain "world-wide ledger" more like the "balance sheet" part of accounting, i.e. a snapshot showing current assets and liabilities? Or is it more like the "cash flow" part of accounting, i.e. a journal showing historical revenues and expenses? When I think of thousands of machines around the globe having to lug around multiple identical copies of a multi-gigabyte file containing some asshole's coffee purchase forever and ever... I feel like I'm ideologically drifting in one direction (where I'd end up also being against really cool stuff like online micropayments and Africans banking via SMS)... so I don't want to go there. But on the other hand, when really experienced and battle-tested veterans with major experience in the world of open-souce programming and project management (the "small-blockians") warn of the catastrophic consequences of a possible failed hard-fork, I get freaked out and I wonder if Bitcoin really was destined to be a settlement layer for big transactions. Could the original programmer(s) possibly weigh in? And I don't mean to appeal to authority - but heck, where the hell is Satoshi Nakamoto in all this? I do understand that he/she/they would want to maintain absolute anonymity - but on the other hand, I assume SN wants Bitcoin to succeed (both for the future of humanity - or at least for all the bitcoins SN allegedly holds :-) - and I understand there is a way that SN can cryptographically sign a message - and I understand that as the original developer of Bitcoin, SN had some very specific opinions about the blocksize... So I'm kinda wondering of Satoshi could weigh in from time to time. Just to help out a bit. I'm not saying "Show us a sign" like a deity or something - but damn it sure would be fascinating and possibly very helpful if Satoshi gave us his/hetheir 2 satoshis worth at this really confusing juncture. Are we using our capacity wisely? I'm not a programming or game-theory whiz, I'm just a casual user who has tried to keep up with technology over the years. It just seems weird to me that here we have this massive supercomputer (500 times more powerful than the all the supercomputers in the world combined) doing fairly straightforward "embarassingly parallel" number-crunching operations to secure a p2p world-wide ledger called the blockchain to keep track of a measly 2.1 quadrillion tokens spread out among a few billion addresses - and a couple of years ago you had people like Rick Falkvinge saying the blockchain would someday be supporting multi-million-dollar letters of credit for international trade and you had people like Andreas Antonopoulos saying the blockchain would someday allow billions of "unbanked" people to send remittances around the village or around the world dirt-cheap - and now suddenly in June 2015 we're talking about blockspace as a "scarce resource" and talking about "fee markets" and partially centralized, corporate-sponsored "Level 2" vaporware like Lightning Network and some mysterious company is "stess testing" or "DoS-ing" the system by throwing away a measly $5,000 and suddenly it sounds like the whole system could eventually head right back into PayPal and Western Union territory again, in terms of expensive fees. When I got into Bitcoin, I really was heavily influenced by vague analogies with BitTorrent: I figured everyone would just have tiny little like utorrent-type program running on their machine (ie, Bitcoin-QT or Armory or Mycelium etc.). I figured that just like anyone can host a their own blog or webserver, anyone would be able to host their own bank. Yeah, Google and and Mozilla and Twitter and Facebook and WhatsApp did come along and build stuff on top of TCP/IP, so I did expect a bunch of companies to build layers on top of the Bitcoin protocol as well. But I still figured the basic unit of bitcoin client software powering the overall system would be small and personal and affordable and p2p - like a bittorrent client - or at the most, like a cheap server hosting a blog or email server. And I figured there would be a way at the software level, at the architecture level, at the algorithmic level, at the data structure level - to let the thing scale - if not infinitely, at least fairly massively and gracefully - the same way the BitTorrent network has. Of course, I do also understand that with BitTorrent, you're sharing a read-only object (eg, a movie) - whereas with Bitcoin, you're achieving distributed trustless consensus and appending it to a write-only (or append-only) database. So I do understand that the problem which BitTorrent solves is much simpler than the problem which Bitcoin sets out to solve. But still, it seems that there's got to be a way to make this thing scale. It's p2p and it's got 500 times more computing power than all the supercomputers in the world combined - and so many brilliant and motivated and inspired people want this thing to succeed! And Bitcoin could be our civilization's last chance to steer away from the oncoming debt-based ditch of disaster we seem to be driving into! It just seems that Bitcoin has got to be able to scale somehow - and all these smart people working together should be able to come up with a solution which pretty much everyone can agree - in advance - will work. Right? Right? A (probably irrelevant) tangent on algorithms and architecture and data structures I'll finally weigh with my personal perspective - although I might be biased due to my background (which is more on the theoretical side of computer science). My own modest - or perhaps radical - suggestion would be to ask whether we're really looking at all the best possible algorithms and architectures and data structures out there. From this perspective, I sometimes worry that the overwhelming majority of the great minds working on the programming and game-theory stuff might come from a rather specific, shall we say "von Neumann" or "procedural" or "imperative" school of programming (ie, C and Python and Java programmers). It seems strange to me that such a cutting-edge and important computer project would have so little participation from the great minds at the other end of the spectrum of programming paradigms - namely, the "functional" and "declarative" and "algebraic" (and co-algebraic!) worlds. For example, I was struck in particular by statements I've seen here and there (which seemed rather hubristic or lackadaisical to me - for something as important as Bitcoin), that the specification of Bitcoin and the blockchain doesn't really exist in any form other than the reference implementation(s) (in procedural languages such as C or Python?). Curry-Howard anyone? I mean, many computer scientists are aware of the Curry-Howard isomorophism, which basically says that the relationship between a theorem and its proof is equivalent to the relationship between a specification and its implementation. In other words, there is a long tradition in mathematics (and in computer programming) of:
separating the compact (and easy-to-check) statement of a theorem from the messy (and hard-to-check) details of its proof(s);
separating the specification of a system from its implementation(s); and
being able to prove that an implementation does indeed satisfy its specification.
And it's not exactly "turtles all the way down" either: a specification is generally simple and compact enough that a good programmer can usually simply visually inspect it to determine if it is indeed "correct" - something which is very difficult, if not impossible, to do with a program written in a procedural, implementation-oriented language such as C or Python or Java. So I worry that we've got this tradition, from the open-source github C/Java programming tradition, of never actually writing our "specification", and only writing the "implementation". In mission-critical military-grade programming projects (which often use languages like Ada or Maude) this is simply not allowed. It would seem that a project as mission-critical as Bitcoin - which could literally be crucial for humanity's continued survival - should also use this kind of military-grade software development approach. And I'm not saying rewrite the implementations in these kind of theoretical languages. But it might be helpful if the C/Python/Java programmers in the Bitcoin imperative programming world could build some bridges to the Maude/Haskell/ML programmers of the functional and algebraic programming worlds to see if any kind of useful cross-pollination might take place - between specifications and implementations. For example, the JavaFAN formal analyzer for multi-threaded Java programs (developed using tools based on the Maude language) was applied to the Remote Agent AI program aboard NASA's Deep Space 1 shuttle, written in Java - and it took only a few minutes using formal mathematical reasoning to detect a potential deadlock which would have occurred years later during the space mission when the damn spacecraft was already way out around Pluto. And "the Maude-NRL (Naval Research Laboratory) Protocol Analyzer (Maude-NPA) is a tool used to provide security proofs of cryptographic protocols and to search for protocol flaws and cryptosystem attacks." These are open-source formal reasoning tools developed by DARPA and used by NASA and the US Navy to ensure that program implementations satisfy their specifications. It would be great if some of the people involved in these kinds of projects could contribute to help ensure the security and scalability of Bitcoin. But there is a wide abyss between the kinds of programmers who use languages like Maude and the kinds of programmers who use languages like C/Python/Java - and it can be really hard to get the two worlds to meet. There is a bit of rapprochement between these language communities in languages which might be considered as being somewhere in the middle, such as Haskell and ML. I just worry that Bitcoin might be turning into being an exclusively C/Python/Java project (with the algorithms and practitioners traditionally of that community), when it could be more advantageous if it also had some people from the functional and algebraic-specification and program-verification community involved as well. The thing is, though: the theoretical practitioners are big on "semantics" - I've heard them say stuff like "Yes but a C / C++ program has no easily identifiable semantics". So to get them involved, you really have to first be able to talk about what your program does (specification) - before proceeding to describe how it does it (implementation). And writing high-level specifications is typically very hard using the syntax and semantics of languages like C and Java and Python - whereas specs are fairly easy to write in Maude - and not only that, they're executable, and you state and verify properties about them - which provides for the kind of debate Nick Szabo was advocating ("more computer science, less noise"). Imagine if we had an executable algebraic specification of Bitcoin in Maude, where we could formally reason about and verify certain crucial game-theoretical properties - rather than merely hand-waving and arguing and deploying and praying. And so in the theoretical programming community you've got major research on various logics such as Girard's Linear Logic (which is resource-conscious) and Bruni and Montanari's Tile Logic (which enables "pasting" bigger systems together from smaller ones in space and time), and executable algebraic specification languages such as Meseguer's Maude (which would be perfect for game theory modeling, with its functional modules for specifying the deterministic parts of systems and its system modules for specifiying non-deterministic parts of systems, and its parameterized skeletons for sketching out the typical architectures of mobile systems, and its formal reasoning and verification tools and libraries which have been specifically applied to testing and breaking - and fixing - cryptographic protocols). And somewhat closer to the practical hands-on world, you've got stuff like Google's MapReduce and lots of Big Data database languages developed by Google as well. And yet here we are with a mempool growing dangerously big for RAM on a single machine, and a 20-GB append-only list as our database - and not much debate on practical results from Google's Big Data databases. (And by the way: maybe I'm totally ignorant for asking this, but I'll ask anyways: why the hell does the mempool have to stay in RAM? Couldn't it work just as well if it were stored temporarily on the hard drive?) And you've got CalvinDB out of Yale which apparently provides an ACID layer on top of a massively distributed database. Look, I'm just an armchair follower cheering on these projects. I can barely manage to write a query in SQL, or read through a C or Python or Java program. But I would argue two points here: (1) these languages may be too low-level and "non-formal" for writing and modeling and formally reasoning about and proving properties of mission-critical specifications - and (2) there seem to be some Big Data tools already deployed by institutions such as Google and Yale which support global petabyte-size databases on commodity boxes with nice properties such as near-real-time and ACID - and I sometimes worry that the "core devs" might be failing to review the literature (and reach out to fellow programmers) out there to see if there might be some formal program-verification and practical Big Data tools out there which could be applied to coming up with rock-solid, 100% consensus proposals to handle an issue such as blocksize scaling, which seems to have become much more intractable than many people might have expected. I mean, the protocol solved the hard stuff: the elliptical-curve stuff and the Byzantine General stuff. How the heck can we be falling down on the comparatively "easier" stuff - like scaling the blocksize? It just seems like defeatism to say "Well, the blockchain is already 20-30 GB and it's gonna be 20-30 TB ten years from now - and we need 10 Mbs bandwidth now and 10,000 Mbs bandwidth 20 years from - assuming the evil Verizon and AT&T actually give us that - so let's just become a settlement platform and give up on buying coffee or banking the unbanked or doing micropayments, and let's push all that stuff into some corporate-controlled vaporware without even a whitepaper yet." So you've got Peter Todd doing some possibly brilliant theorizing and extrapolating on the idea of "treechains" - there is a Let's Talk Bitcoin podcast from about a year ago where he sketches the rough outlines of this idea out in a very inspiring, high-level way - although the specifics have yet to be hammered out. And we've got Blockstream also doing some hopeful hand-waving about the Lightning Network. Things like Peter Todd's treechains - which may be similar to the spark in some devs' eyes called Lightning Network - are examples of the kind of algorithm or architecture which might manage to harness the massive computing power of miners and nodes in such a way that certain kinds of massive and graceful scaling become possible. It just seems like a kindof tiny dev community working on this stuff. Being a C or Python or Java programmer should not be a pre-req to being able to help contribute to the specification (and formal reasoning and program verification) for Bitcoin and the blockchain. XML and UML are crap modeling and specification languages, and C and Java and Python are even worse (as specification languages - although as implementation languages, they are of course fine). But there are serious modeling and specification languages out there, and they could be very helpful at times like this - where what we're dealing with is questions of modeling and specification (ie, "needs and requirements"). One just doesn't often see the practical, hands-on world of open-source github implementation-level programmers and the academic, theoretical world of specification-level programmers meeting very often. I wish there were some way to get these two worlds to collaborate on Bitcoin. Maybe a good first step to reach out to the theoretical people would be to provide a modular executable algebraic specification of the Bitcoin protocol in a recognized, military/NASA-grade specification language such as Maude - because that's something the theoretical community can actually wrap their heads around, whereas it's very hard to get them to pay attention to something written only as a C / Python / Java implementation (without an accompanying specification in a formal language). They can't check whether the program does what it's supposed to do - if you don't provide a formal mathematical definition of what the program is supposed to do. Specification : Implementation :: Theorem : Proof You have to remember: the theoretical community is very aware of the Curry-Howard isomorphism. Just like it would be hard to get a mathematician's attention by merely showing them a proof without telling also telling them what theorem the proof is proving - by the same token, it's hard to get the attention of a theoretical computer scientist by merely showing them an implementation without showing them the specification that it implements. Bitcoin is currently confronted with a mathematical or "computer science" problem: how to secure the network while getting high enough transactional throughput, while staying within the limited RAM, bandwidth and hard drive space limitations of current and future infrastructure. The problem only becomes a political and economic problem if we give up on trying to solve it as a mathematical and "theoretical computer science" problem. There should be a plethora of whitepapers out now proposing algorithmic solutions to these scaling issues. Remember, all we have to do is apply the Byzantine General consensus-reaching procedure to a worldwide database which shuffles 2.1 quadrillion tokens among a few billion addresses. The 21 company has emphatically pointed out that racing to compute a hash to add a block is an "embarrassingly parallel" problem - very easy to decompose among cheap, fault-prone, commodity boxes, and recompose into an overall solution - along the lines of Google's highly successful MapReduce. I guess what I'm really saying is (and I don't mean to be rude here), is that C and Python and Java programmers might not be the best qualified people to develop and formally prove the correctness of (note I do not say: "test", I say "formally prove the correctness of") these kinds of algorithms. I really believe in the importance of getting the algorithms and architectures right - look at Google Search itself, it uses some pretty brilliant algorithms and architectures (eg, MapReduce, Paxos) which enable it to achieve amazing performance - on pretty crappy commodity hardware. And look at BitTorrent, which is truly p2p, where more demand leads to more supply. So, in this vein, I will close this lengthy rant with an oddly specific link - which may or may not be able to make some interesting contributions to finding suitable algorithms, architectures and data structures which might help Bitcoin scale massively. I have no idea if this link could be helpful - but given the near-total lack of people from the Haskell and ML and functional worlds in these Bitcoin specification debates, I thought I'd be remiss if I didn't throw this out - just in case there might be something here which could help us channel the massive computing power of the Bitcoin network in such a way as to enable us simply sidestep this kind of desperate debate where both sides seem right because the other side seems wrong. https://personal.cis.strath.ac.uk/neil.ghani/papers/ghani-calco07 The above paper is about "higher dimensional trees". It uses a bit of category theory (not a whole lot) and a bit of Haskell (again not a lot - just a simple data structure called a Rose tree, which has a wikipedia page) to develop a very expressive and efficient data structure which generalizes from lists to trees to higher dimensions. I have no idea if this kind of data structure could be applicable to the current scaling mess we apparently are getting bogged down in - I don't have the game-theory skills to figure it out. I just thought that since the blockchain is like a list, and since there are some tree-like structures which have been grafted on for efficiency (eg Merkle trees) and since many of the futuristic scaling proposals seem to also involve generalizing from list-like structures (eg, the blockchain) to tree-like structures (eg, side-chains and tree-chains)... well, who knows, there might be some nugget of algorithmic or architectural or data-structure inspiration there. So... TL;DR: (1) I'm freaked out that this blocksize debate has splintered the community so badly and dragged on so long, with no resolution in sight, and both sides seeming so right (because the other side seems so wrong). (2) I think Bitcoin could gain immensely by using high-level formal, algebraic and co-algebraic program specification and verification languages (such as Maude including Maude-NPA, Mobile Maude parameterized skeletons, etc.) to specify (and possibly also, to some degree, verify) what Bitcoin does - before translating to low-level implementation languages such as C and Python and Java saying how Bitcoin does it. This would help to communicate and reason about programs with much more mathematical certitude - and possibly obviate the need for many political and economic tradeoffs which currently seem dismally inevitable - and possibly widen the collaboration on this project. (3) I wonder if there are some Big Data approaches out there (eg, along the lines of Google's MapReduce and BigTable, or Yale's CalvinDB), which could be implemented to allow Bitcoin to scale massively and painlessly - and to satisfy all stakeholders, ranging from millionaires to micropayments, coffee drinkers to the great "unbanked".
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