1. 18

Rules: Existing cryptocurrencies can be cited, but you need to provide a justification taking into account their vulnerabilities. However, I’d be most interested in non-cryptocurrency applications. Examples in which there is a trusted participant don’t count unless you can explain how that it different from basic encryption. The Haber-Stornetta method, for example, relies on a trusted party to publish the hashes https://www.anf.es/pdf/Haber_Stornetta.pdf

  1.  

    1. 2

      Purchasing or supporting illegal goods online is well known use. I like that your example is one of the few that seems like right thing to do. It is an argument in favor of cryptocurrency that even the masses might accept if told the context.

      1. 2

        Derek! This post is super interesting and I hadn’t seen it until now. I’d worked on a similar idea about a year ago with a bitcoin-paying npm proxy server. The idea was basically the same: package developers could include payment information in the metadata and folks that use the projects would automatically payout to those projects.

        Although, I think OpenCollective’s BackYourStack has done a better job at creating a user-friendly system (centralized, over the traditional payment system).

        I’m not sure this fulfills OPs criteria for a compelling use case, but it’s great to encounter someone working on similar ideas.

        1. 2

          At the time there was push back from blockchain people complaining about blocks being filled up unnecessarily. These days Etherium might be a better, if somewhat more complicated solution.

          Traditional payment systems are designed o be confidential, which for this use case is a disadvantage.

        2. 2

          The argument seems to be “PayPal doesn’t have an API for this.” So the issue isn’t the centralized system, it’s just a missing API, and if they had it PayPal would suffice?

          1. 2

            The point of the blockchain approach is that proof of purchase is publicly visible; removing the need for the software developer to spend time any time confirming the sale.

            1. 10

              You dont need a blockchain. You just need a log, crypto, and 3rd-party checking. Schemes for “blockchain” functionality that just used logs with crypto have been around a long time.

              1. 5

                More specifically I guess, Certificate Transparency. Every time someone wants a “blockchain” to publicly prove something, they actually want CT.

                1. 1

                  I think this is correct. Although it’s very hard to trust Google on this specific instance.

                  1. 3

                    You don’t have to trust Google for anything. I mean, you can adapt the general scheme/protocol for any content (not just TLS certs) and trust whoever you want to host servers.

                  2. 1

                    That’s another good example of logging + crypto + checking.

                    1. 1

                      A CT is half the solution. A blockchain performs payment and public record keeping in one transaction.

                      1. 2

                        It does but it’s unnecessary. Fire off two transactions: one updates a key-value store that audit pages are generated from; one goes through payment system. Both are so efficient that similar protocol operations are done on 16-bit MCU’s in smartcards.

                        It’s also not clear that you want the payment and log handled by same systems with same privileges and admins. Splitting them up can mitigate some risk.

            2. 4

              Version history for a publically/anonymously-modifiable document whose versions are permanently stored (ex., on IPFS): clients can post their new versions to the end of some fork of the merkel tree, and the most interesting version is the one with the most modifications, but the network will still make all forks available, and the users who modify it are persistently pseudonymous without any centralized registration of their identity.

              1. 4

                The thinking man’s MMORPG. You don’t want players to cheat and “double shoot” an arrow, right? :)

                1. 5

                  Turn-based strategy is slow enough for a block-chain.

                2. 3

                  I think multi-signature transactions make for interesting possibilities in scaling/automating escrow. I guess that might be more of a feature of Bitcoin (and probably other coins - haven’t looked) than a feature of blockchains?

                  But, for what I want to use multi-sig for I need a stable (or at least mostly stable!) coin. And I’m not convinced stable coins are possible. I kinda feel like if we could have a stable coin we would have got one by now, and it would have killed all the other coins because people could actually use it.

                  (BTW, I am a crypto pessimist. I don’t see a much of a future for blockchain technology or any of the current coins).

                  1. 2

                    But, for what I want to use multi-sig for I need a stable (or at least mostly stable!) coin

                    You mean something like tether or?

                    * full disclosure, I’m a crypto pessimist myself too and I do not endorse tether.

                    1. 1

                      Yeah, I’m aware of tether. It’s a stablecoin in the sense that it has proven to be pretty stable, but there’s the ongoing issue with the lack of a rigorous and independent audit, and the whole “look at our website, you’ll see that number A matches number B” thing. The stability seems to me to be largely based on confidence/trust, which is seemingly true of all the other backed-by-real-asset coins - “trust us, the gold is all in a vault in Singapore”, etc…

                      Even if the price of Bitcoin settled down and moved more like a regular currency it could prove to be usable as a relatively-stable coin. The only way I see that happening is the price collapsing to the point that no-one cares about Bitcoin any more.

                  2. 4

                    Distributed physics simulation. You don’t want nodes to cheat and “double spend” a photon, right? :)

                    1. 2

                      Verdict: not a whole lot.

                      1. 1

                        Exactly. That little, hard data vs the massive money and energy thrown at something usually indicates its a hype and gambling bubble.

                      2. 2

                        These posts in the thread don’t take into account high transaction costs and long transaction processing times.

                          1. 1

                            I didn’t realize those were objectives for urbit. Where are they outlined?

                          2. 2

                            A secondary market for concert/event tickets could bypass the pretty extortionary and abusive middlemen that currently dominate that market. Of course that depends on: a stable value-coin; participation of event promoters; dramatically increased scalability, reliability, efficiency and usability of blockchain and off-chain tools.

                            I think anything like this, that depends on allocating scarce intangible assets, presents a compelling use case. But all this is contingent on dramatic improvements in technology. Right now there are some really interesting things going on in the Ethereum world involving consensus, sharding, and scalability that, if promises are lived up to, might get us closer to where we’d need to be. As far as I can tell most people involved in other cryptocurrencies space are unhealthily fixated on asset prices and speculation, probably to the detriment of making meaningful progress into building these things into useful tools.

                            1. 3

                              I kind of agree, but a “stable value-coin” is a “trusted third party”, I think.

                              1. 5

                                Yes. This is an absolutely unavoidable point that people need to accept and not try to find a clever technical solution for, because none exists! The US dollar is useful to people largely because the federal reserve has a staff that produces and considers numerous reports of real-world consumer prices and adjusts policy to keep them changing at a modest and predictable rate. There is no way a fixed set of rules in a blockchain can achieve this: we are intractable bound to these real-world institutions if we want the stable prices average citizens will demand. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts very slowly re-learning–or refusing to learn–these basic tenets of monetary policy is frustrating.

                                Given this, I feel that being able to trust arbitrary counterparties for a some variety of transactions could still be a very useful tool in the future.

                                1. 3

                                  I think for at least the early ones it was less ignorance of monetary policy, and more a fundamental philosophical disagreement.

                              2. 1

                                Can’t they just sell it centralized online with a limit for each registered customer? Could even bootstrap it at one event by giving customers cards with unique codes on them for use with an app and/or web site. They get them with instructions when they come in. That establishes the unique ID’s that are used to buy tickets for future events.

                                Whatever is left of the problem should be minimal. If each supplier does this, third parties will show up selling them a solution trying to grab the market. It will get cheaper for those selling tickets.

                                1. 5

                                  So who are the miners? How are they paid? What is the mining/validation method? Who has custody over copies? What happens when there is disagreement among ledgers?

                                  1. 1

                                    My (very) naive answer would be:

                                    • The users of the service
                                    • By using the service
                                    • no idea
                                    • Everybody?
                                    • Majority?