1. -5

    I scanned the entire article but could not find any concrete legitimate criticisms. A lot of the article repeats falsehoods like the notion that Bitcoin is environmentally wasteful, or the straw man that to trust Bitcoin you must trust an exchange (not true).

    Statements like this are unbecoming of Scheiner:

    Do you need a public blockchain? The answer is almost certainly no. A blockchain probably doesn’t solve the security problems you think it solves.

    It’s pretty arrogant of him to tell all of the people who do find that Bitcoin solves problems they have that they’re wrong and it doesn’t and that they don’t know what they’re doing, and to do so while repeating one falsehood after another demonstrating his own ignorance about the subject.

    1. 22

      Bruce Schneier literally wrote the book on applied cryptography (you know, the crypto part of “cryptocurrency”).

      His points are all true. The blockchain and cryptocurrencies are only good for speculation, scams and potentially for money-laundering but the last one is doubtful given the large swings in value for most of these systems.

      “The blockchain” is an expensive history lesson about the nature of trust and financial regulation.

      1. 9

        expensive history lesson about the nature of trust and financial regulation

        Oh yeah. As Nicholas Weaver put it, literally speedrunning 500 years of bad economics. Tulip mania with CryptoKitties, Tether is a wildcat bank, “smart contracts” are unlicensed securities…

        1. 2

          Schneier also apologised for all the harm done by “Applied Cryptography” in his preface to “Secrets and Lies.” It turns out that implementation is all important, but hard. Yes, he can get it wrong. And he has done so here by conflating trust with removing the need to rely on a central authority for conducting transactions anywhere in the world.

          1. -1

            I see a lot of rhetoric in your reply and nothing else. Your saying that “his points are all true” doesn’t change the fact that they are nonsense upon even rudimentary examination. But you are more than welcome to point to a single valid criticism he makes.

          2. 12

            I’m annoyed by this article, because it doesn’t really cite its sources. So here’s some instead:

            A lot of the article repeats falsehoods like the notion that Bitcoin is environmentally wasteful

            https://digiconomist.net/verify-dont-trust/

            https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/09/bitcoin-mining-energy-prices-smalltown-feature-217230

            the straw man that to trust Bitcoin you must trust an exchange (not true)

            https://lobste.rs/s/fq8z3x/even_lastpass_will_be_stolen_deal_with_it

            Got any good ways to deal with risk other than multi-key wallets, which fail by irretrievably losing your money?

            1. 4

              “By comparison, a VISA transaction has a carbon footprint of 0.4 grams (a factor 7,500 difference).”

              Which isn’t the lower bound since their legacy systems probably use mainframes. New hardware/software systems, esp with protocol offloading, could get energy use down further. Think FoundationDB on ARM servers.

              On the client side, the tamper-resistant cards use 16-bit MCU’s with crypto accelerators. Might be worth comparing to whatever cards are in use for bitcoin transactions in performance, cost, energy, and/or tamper-resistance.

              1. 2

                This was already brought up and discussed below.

                1. 6

                  I didn’t see client-side addressed. Ledger, Trevor, and KeepKey look expensive compared to either free-for-me, cheap-for-them smartcards from my bank or stuff like Infineon SLE 78 using 16-bitters. Talking to these bank databases costs about $2.20 per chip-enabled card per a Bloomberg article. Magstripe cost 50 cents.

                  I am curious where the price points are on the hardware these days. Accessibility, too. Can you participate in Bitcoin network for 50 cents to $2.20 without a computer or messing with any software? And then doing the online stuff, checking for fraud and so on, on the cheapest, Internet-enabled computer on Earth? And can you do that without any more volatile effects on your balance than the U.S. dollar is exposed to?

                  1. 3

                    Can you participate in Bitcoin network for 50 cents to $2.20

                    On-chain transaction fees cost about 2000 satoshis right now (~$0.07), and lightning transactions are a fraction of a satoshi. There are multiple free wallets you can install on smartphones, tablets, laptops, or desktops.

                    without a computer or messing with any software?

                    Stipulating no software does rule out most ways of interacting with bitcoin. Which I guess was your point?

                    And then doing the online stuff, checking for fraud and so on, on the cheapest, Internet-enabled computer on Earth?

                    Sure. Even a full bitcoin node only requires hardware about as powerful as a raspberry pi, plus a few hundred gigabytes of storage. “Light” wallets without a copy of the blockchain should run nearly anywhere. You can also check your address balances using a block explorer website. For example, this randomly selected address has 1.22 BTC in it.

                    And can you do that without any more volatile effects on your balance than the U.S. dollar is exposed to?

                    This is a tough criteria to compete on, even for powerful foreign currencies. There is a “stablecoin” project built on Ethereum called MakerDAO, which uses collateralized smart contracts to issue DAI tokens with a stable $1 value. Personally I prefer accepting bitcoin, but the Maker project looks interesting. Bounties on gitcoin are mostly paid using DAI.

                    1. 2

                      Thanks for the update on the transaction fees. That’s pretty awesome. Other points:

                      “Stipulating no software does rule out most ways of interacting with bitcoin. Which I guess was your point?”

                      The existing methods for banking and digital payments can work with minimal, software interaction. They carry a cheap card, swipe it, and optionally hit yes/no to some things. They can get online or paper logs of the transactions for security. Even if the computers go down, there’s paper methods for doing credit charges which I used to do as a cashier periodically. The orders get processed later with any problems or fraud sorted out with standard procedures. Lots of folks still like checks, too. New methods might need to fit into these situations that already work.

                      ““Light” wallets without a copy of the blockchain should run nearly anywhere. “

                      I mean, it’s good to know that. It might address my concern. However, blockchain’s concept is you can’t trust anyone. You need to be verifying stuff with so much on the distributed ledger.. The traditional systems don’t keep logs and check logs since we don’t think that’s necessary for the whole ledger. If not doing the checks (aka trusting outsiders), might as well trust firms and tech that have been delivering for a long time.

                      “You can also check your address balances using a block explorer website.”

                      That’s useful. The usability looks horrible compared to online banking, though.

                      “This is a tough criteria to compete on, even for powerful foreign currencies.”

                      You literally just have to use dollars. That’s it. There’s also a few countries whose currencies are pretty stable. One, Switzerland, has strong laws about finance. It’s only so hard for cryptocurrencies since they’re trying to replace payment systems and currencies. Just doing the former makes the job a lot easier on the payment side.

                      “There is a “stablecoin” project built on Ethereum called MakerDAO, which uses collateralized smart contracts to issue DAI tokens with a stable $1 value. “

                      Now, that is interesting. That also looks incredibly complicated. Lots of potential risk in the description. At least they had a fale-safe provision toward the end in event of security breaches and such that was controlled by voting. I like that. Better than pretending nothing can happen. Bookmarking it.

                      “Bounties on gitcoin are mostly paid using DAI.”

                      Gitcoin is interesting, too. The dollar amounts on the side look decent. I occasionally run into people looking for stuff like this. I’ll pass it on.

                      “There are multiple free wallets you can install”

                      Far as these side projects, just finished my trial of AliExpress with small-ticket items. That went about as smoothly as you might guess. My SharkWatch is nice, though. Helps the memory-impaired keep date in mind while still looking cool. Be nicer if they send me the manual. Last seller issue I’m working on. AliExpress might be safe for clothes and stuff. Just nothing needing manuals, quality, or water resistance. ;)

                      Note: It’s actually a good example of why I like escrow and chargebacks being available. The possibility of them plus reputation helped in two cases. Had to use it for real in one.

                      Although I’m pretty overloaded, being doing with AliExpress experiment leaves me time to try some cryptocurrency. I might try to put a small amount of money into some of these things just to get a feel for what using it is like today. Just a little use here and there over this year. Let’s say I’m focusing exclusively on Bitcoin (esp w/ Lightening), Ether, Dai, and Zcash. I’m on Linux and Android. What app? What exchange (esp easy conversions between them)? What is trustworthy? What tutorials do yall give people for deposit, buy, and withdrawl? And what general-purpose sites become my new stores or whatever that accept payment?

                      1. 3

                        Hey Nick! Pleasant surprise to see a reply from you; I assumed this thread was dormant by now.

                        I don’t have a great answer for your offline-only situation, but here are some thoughts:

                        1. You could hand someone a paper wallet with the exact amount of bitcoin in it that you want to transfer. This isn’t ideal, because the wallet creator could have a copy of the private key. You need to withdraw from that wallet as soon as possible.
                        2. OpenDime is a hardware wallet designed to be handed off, but they cost $13 each. Because the private key is only stored inside the device, it’s more trustworthy than a paper wallet. It also includes software for checking the balance.

                        It’s funny that you mention checks because I can hardly think of a less secure way to transact. When I learned that checks have your account number in plain sight, with no authentication mechanisms for deposit/withdrawal, I was shocked.

                        Overall the offline situation isn’t well-addressed by bitcoin, but I’m not sure that it needs to be. Credit cards also require an internet connection. The new stipulation is that you need a smartphone or PC. I think this is reasonable. In catching up to the developed world, Africa skipped over the card/check stage and went straight to mobile payments.

                        Regarding light wallets, I definitely believe that people ought to run their own full nodes. Light wallets are still useful because they can run on lightweight devices and connect to your full node running at home. There isn’t enough room for the blockchain on my phone, so I must use a light wallet on that device.

                        MakerDAO is certainly interesting. It is complicated, but I like how it brings all that financial sausage to the forefront. Banks are just balance sheets: assets matched against liabilities. So it is with Maker. One important note: Maker relies on the value of Ethereum for collateral purposes. It can’t exist independently of valuable collateral.

                        There are many different visions of what cryptocurrency is and should be. My favorite narrative is uncensorable e-gold. The most common other narrative I encounter is e-cash: an amalgam of “bank the unbanked”, “free/cheap payments”, and “non-volatile store of value”. DAI is a pretty good e-cash, but I want e-gold. I believe bitcoin has the best monetary policy of any currency (including physical gold), and I am able to stomach today’s volatility. That’s obviously not true of everyone.

                        Spending just one paragraph on the e-gold narrative, I’ll focus on the stock-to-flow ratio. Gold and silver have historically been the best reserve assets because of their scarcity. All newly-mined metal deposits dilute the existing supply, which requires new saving to offset the supply increase or the price will drop. Gold’s stock-to-flow is over 60x. Silver is in second place with around 20x. This means that given the same yearly savings rate, gold will be 3x as valuable as silver. The superior stock-to-flow ratio means gold actually attracts much more investment and commands a significantly higher price than silver. Bitcoin started with a very high emission rate, which has slowed down over time. Every 210,000 blocks (about 4 years) the rate of bitcoin creation is halved, which is highly correlated with an increase in bitcoin price. After the next halving, bitcoin will have a better stock-to-flow ratio than gold.

                        Here are falsifiable predictions I expect will be borne out in the coming few years:

                        • Cyclical corrections have a 85-90% price drop. We are at or near the bottom for this cycle.
                          • Failure = a price drop below $2k (weak failure) or $900 (strong failure)
                        • The absolute cyclical low will be made before the May 2020 halving.
                          • Failure = a new low after the halving
                        • The old peak price of $20k will be surpassed after the next halving but before the end of 2022.
                          • Failure = no new all-time-high by the end of 2022
                        • The next peak price will occur before the end of 2023.
                        • There will be another bubble burst after the next cycle peak, followed by yet another >80% drawdown.

                        It is harder for me to champion bitcoin’s e-cash narrative because it’s not something I personally prioritize. I would rather transact entirely in bitcoin than repeatedly cross through crypto-fiat gateways, which admittedly have a lot of friction. Speaking of which, I wasn’t aware that you could pay with cryptocurrency on AliExpress; how are you managing that?

                        I like escrow and chargebacks being available. The possibility of them plus reputation helped in two cases. Had to use it for real in one.

                        Chargebacks are nice to have in a spending asset, but not in a savings asset. I think it’s important that base-layer money is not susceptible to chargebacks or other seizure. Consider how many businesses charge less for payment in cash. In addition to credit cards’ transaction fees, they also have a chargeback risk. This is even more important on the international stage. It is very scary to Russia and China how the USA is willing to interrupt SWIFT payments as a political weapon, or reassign ownership of a central bank account as in Venezuela. Those two nations are currently focused on acquiring physical gold, but it underscores the same property: protection against asset seizure.

                        Escrow services are available for bitcoin, although not many long-lived or reputable ones. Another option is a 2-of-3 multisig wallet, which only requires two of three keys to release the funds. That building block would allow you to implement escrow with your own trusted 3rd party.

                        My favorite cryptocurrency software (entirely FOSS, of course):

                        • Electrum - Rather than generate an inscrutable private key, Electrum helps you generate a seed word phrase which is much easier to write down and remember. You can save wallet data in an encrypted file, or re-enter your seed phrase if you’re using an amnesiac OS such as Tails.
                        • bitcoind - The reference full node implementation by Bitcoin Core.
                        • lnd - One of several Lightning Network node implementations. Pierre Rochard wrote a thorough guide to setting up lnd, including a GUI node launcher and screenshot-supplemented instructions. Note that lightning is still experimental; it works and is incredibly fast, but you should only use it with small amounts while it gains maturity.
                        • Samourai Wallet - A light wallet with support for very cutting-edge features, especially those which help with privacy. Integration with OpenDime. They plan to sell plug-and-play full nodes which can be paired to your light wallet.
                        • Wasabi Wallet - A light wallet that implements “trustless coin shuffling with mathematically provable anonymity: Chaumian CoinJoin”. All outgoing payments are shuffled with other Wasabi users. Supports Tor and other privacy features.
                        • Metamask serves well as an Ethereum hot wallet. It also works with ERC20 tokens such as DAI.

                        Electrum was the target of a phishing attack. It’s probably a good idea to use GPG to verify any/all of the above software if you plan on using it to handle large sums.

                        I don’t know of any completely-open hardware wallets apart from OpenDime, which isn’t exactly designed for everyday spending. Trezor and Ledger are the two most popular hardware wallets, and they are mostly open-source. They support a multitude of coins, including BTC, DAI and the others you named.

                        I don’t like most exchanges, I merely tolerate them. USD to BTC conversion typically requires going through KYC/AML laws and involves a fee. I am marginally satisfied with Coinbase. The regular UI is simplified and has a 1.5% to 3% fee. If you login to Coinbase Pro and set a limit order below market price, then there is no fee but you’ll have to wait for your order to fill. Another US alternative is Gemini.

                        Bisq is a decentralized fiat-to-BTC exchange that looks promising, but the liquidity just isn’t there yet. I hope it grows and will be paying close attention.

                        In case you missed it, check out my other comment where I respond to the per-transaction energy cost.

              2. -2

                Perhaps you didn’t see, but I edited my comment with a link explaining why the media blitz about Bitcoin and the environment is politically motivated fake news as usual. I can dig up more links on that subject if you would like.

                Re the risks associated with holding your own keys (as you should), sure:

                • Backups
                • Multisig
                • Paper wallets
                • Social key recovery (we are seeing several wallets with this feature)
                1. 9

                  Perhaps you didn’t see, but I edited my comment with a link explaining why the media blitz about Bitcoin and the environment is politically motivated fake news as usual.

                  The first link I posted, the Digiconomist one, was a rebuttal to that very Hacker Noon article. It’s not like I didn’t know about it.

                  Re the risks associated with holding your own keys (as you should)

                  Most people suck at IT. They are aware of this, and make the conscious choice to avoid being in charge of their own security wherever possible. Hence keeping all their coin in exchanges. Hence consulting companies who offer to take care of all of it for a fee.

                  1. 1

                    What exactly about that article did you find convincing? The ease with which one can measure Bitcoin’s energy consumption?

                    That isn’t an argument about why Bitcoin is bad. It’s an argument in favor of Bitcoin over the existing financial system.

                    1. 11

                      Well, lets compare this throughput per CPU or watt in regular banking to what the Bitcoin network does with the piles of mining hardware it references. It’s taking over a thousand times the hardware, each one uses several times more energy than a regular server, and the result is way fewer than 2+ million transactions a second non-blockchain tech hits.

                      So, the system is clearly using a mind-boggling amount of energy to do a tiny fraction of the same work. Even having mutually-suspicious parties rerunning the same workload on databases checking security 10 times over still doesn’t get hardware/energy usage nearly as high or transactions nearly as low. Bitcoin is just, by design, higher energy for lower work than other tech optimized for throughput and/or energy.

                      Also note that Im using a strongly-consistent database. Might be able to do what I described with one of the eventually-consistent, key-value stores. They’re usually way faster.

                      1. 1

                        So, the system is clearly using a mind-boggling amount of energy to do a tiny fraction of the same work.

                        You’ve shown no evidence of this so far. Comparing Bitcoin to FoundationDB makes no sense at all.

                        I’m more than willing to cede the point if I see a remotely fair comparison for the services provided, but I’ve yet to see anyone do one.

                        1. 6

                          I said in how banking normally does it. The transactions would be in regular databases checked by multiple banks and/or regulators. I used 10 in my example.

                          Tiny fraction of your model. Get robbed way less with insurance up to certain point. Chargebacks helped me deal with bad merchants. Stolen cards had me liable for nothing or $50 max. My wallet device is free and easy to make.

                          Bitcoin sucks in comparison.

                          1. 4

                            lets compare this throughput per CPU or watt in regular banking to what the Bitcoin network does

                            I said in how banking normally does it.

                            Even if we ignore everything outside of the USA, “how banking normally does it” requires thousands of armoured Loomis Fargo trucks, tens of thousands of climate-controlled brick-and-mortar locations, half a million tellers commuting to work…
                            …all of which was left out of the Bitcoin vs. DB comparison.

                            The energy cost of a Bitcoin transaction is (relatively) easily apparent because effectively all of the energy Bitcoin uses is directly tied to transaction processing. By contrast, the energy cost of a “normal bank transaction” is harder to compute because a large portion of it is effectively an externality.

                            1. 5

                              “ requires thousands of armoured Loomis Fargo trucks, tens of thousands of climate-controlled brick-and-mortar locations, half a million tellers commuting to work…”

                              Bitcoin is bootstrapped by and interacts with that system. So, it uses all of that, too, on top of its own energy use. They exist together until nobody ever brings a dollar to or from the Bitcoin ecosystem. That’s always left out of Bitcoin supporters’ comparisons. Apples to oranges, though, since all that isn’t required if our alternative system ditches cash. Now, let’s design an apples to apples alternative since, like Bitcoin, we’re free to come up with arbitrary designs for alternatives.

                              “Bitcoin vs. DB comparison.”

                              Money is just numbers in databases at the Federal Reserve and all its banks. The centralized alternative would just be these databases I describe saying how much money you have. Then they describe the changes in the transactions. That’s all it takes if we’re just talking moving money around. There’s online banks with no branches or cash. There’s platforms like Venmo for digital transactions. If you don’t want physical cash, then we can indeed create online banks without all you describe or payment providers like Venmo/Paypal.

                              In my model, decentralized checking just requires a standardized way for them to exchange logs, multiple parties running checks (hashes/sigs/comparisons), and standardized ways to deal with problems (the security protocols). Throw in a number of participants in different countries, mostly with laws stipulating damages on certain types of fraud or bank scams. All contractually agree to follow the rules of the distributed, checking scheme with high damages for failures. All of that can be built on ultra-fast, commodity tech. Some components of such tech were also formally verified for correctness by various CompSci and industrial projects. So, over time, it can be made more trustworthy than the highly-complicated schemes for decentralized payments. Still wins out by far in the apples to apples comparison.

                              Oh yeah, one other thing: many people don’t want their day-to-day money in something they can’t understand. Most people can understand the basics of how a credit/debit card uses their money in a ledger. They get it pretty quick. The description of the Lightning Network looks like a pile of complicated gibberish by comparison. They’re not going to understand that at all. So, the model basically reduces down to trusting a third party for them. What they’re already doing with their banks with some legal protections for common ways banks will screw them. They also know from media reports on various losses and scams that they effectively have no protection on Bitcoin side. So, they’ll choose the thing they understand which works really well with a maximum, legal loss of $50 per card.

                              1. 1

                                many people don’t want their day-to-day money in something they can’t understand.

                                Are you telling jokes now?

                                The description of the Lightning Network looks like a pile of complicated gibberish by comparison

                                The Lightning Network is child’s play to understand compared to the criminal fraud the Federal Reserve is.

                            2. -7

                              I said in how banking normally does it. The transactions would be in regular databases checked by multiple banks and/or regulators. I used 10 in my example.

                              Wow, I had no idea that I could compete with the international banking system and provide the same service (or in the case of Bitcoin, better), by running a simple RDBMS.

                              You’ve really opened my eyes. I’m sure there are others here who are also wondering why they didn’t think of this before. You deserve some sort of award, really.

                              1. 6

                                I said transaction processing part. Stop trolling. Besides, your side claims to compete with international banking using just a slow/energy-hungry protocol, some mining hardware, and some software. Much wilder claim than mine which builds on banking’s own fundamental mechanisms: databases, networking, and some custom software.

                                1. -2

                                  Stop trolling.

                                  Here is a conversation about Bitcoin’s energy usage, and you come along saying that an RDBMS can do what Bitcoin does.

                                  I’m not the one who’s trolling here. :)

                                  1. 8

                                    I said multiple parties running an RDBMS and/or logs checking each other can do what Bitcoin does. Running transactions within the financial institutions using regular databases (can already do that). Anything shared that has to be trustless can be provided as a log with signed hash to those checking it. All the checkers hash the log, check sigs, look for any risk patterns they’re interested in, and update a shared state probably with some human review of that part.

                                    It takes way less energy and time to do some database transactions, share logs, and crypto-check them… all stuff our CPU’s and networks are optimized for I’ll add… than to do the equivalent using a protocol designed to take more time and energy. Why do you keep leaving that off if you’re not trolling or in denial mode? It’s designed to require extra work. That’s for the security of the protocol given its difficult goals operating in decentralized environment with less trust. More difficult than traditional, banking risks which allow centralized designs and third parties with efficient protocols.

                                    Unlike Bitcoin designing for extra work, centralized generation with decentralized checking using just hashes and sigs can leverage those efficient protocols. Those are designed for maximum efficiency or good efficiency with some loss due to security functions (i.e. fraud monitoring). Whatever they want. We have everything from ultra-fast DB’s on server clusters to fast ones running on embedded boards with QNX. We have networking cards doing line-rate crypto for traditional protocols and algorithms over networks up to 10Gbps (affordable ones at least). Each generating or verifying party can use cheap-per-GB storage like Backblaze pods with 480TB of storage. Using Viza statistics as example, one Pod per year or a few years should do it.

                                    I’ll also add we have decades of investment into how to secure these things. We know how to do it. Some of these components have even been formally verified in the past. There’s all kinds of veterans to hire on fraud prevention and legal side. The crypto-currencies are more complex protocols than receive/store/log/sign/check. They have more unknowns. So, they use more energy, move more slowly, are harder to secure, and are having big failures since they’re new. So, they’re worse until proven better. That simple.

                                    1. 1

                                      I said multiple parties running an RDBMS and/or logs checking each other can do what Bitcoin does.

                                      Well, what else do you want me to say? You’re simply mistaken about that. 🤷‍♂️

                        2. 7

                          Herein the author ignores that even with his own optimistic 25 TWh per year energy consumption estimate, the Bitcoin network still has an average per transaction electricity footprint of 300+ KWh (processing 81 million transactions in the whole of 2018). Even with a bizarrely optimistic emission factor of 10g of CO2 per KWh (note that pure hydropower may have an emission factor of 4g/KWh), that’s still a carbon footprint of 3 kilograms of CO2 per transaction. By comparison, a VISA transaction has a carbon footprint of 0.4 grams (a factor 7,500 difference).

                          That part.

                          1. 3

                            You can measure the total energy used for bitcoin mining, but I’m not sure it makes sense to do a per-transaction analysis. Energy consumption has no correlation to transaction throughput.

                            The only thing that hashpower affects is chain security. The more energy is spent on mining, the more expensive it is to conduct a 51% attack. Energy spent on mining doesn’t affect transaction throughput except in the very short term, before a “difficulty adjustment” ensures blocks are released at a steady 10 minute cadence.

                            Visa-level scaling is not achievable with on-chain transactions. The firehose of transaction data would grow the chain too quickly for all but the beefiest servers to process. On the other hand, a constrained flow of data keeps bitcoin decentralized. Weaker computers with slower internet connections can still participate and validate transactions.

                            Bitcoin’s transaction bottleneck was never the energy consumption, but the growth in ledger size. We are working around that limitation with the lightning network, which only writes to the blockchain when opening or closing a payment channel. It’s possible to make thousands of lightning payments with only a few hundred bytes actually hitting the blockchain.

                            Lightning’s UX still needs improvement, but I am optimistic on the transaction throughput.

                            1. 3

                              Thanks a lot for posting this comment.

                              It’s no secret I am not a Bitcoin/cryptocurrency proponent but I believe this site deserves technical discussions over name-calling and conspiracy mongering.

                            2. 1

                              That part demonstrates the author doesn’t understand Bitcoin or the current financial system well enough to properly compare them.

                              VISA does not do settlements. It is a payment network. You compare it not to Bitcoin (which is incapable of scaling to anywhere near Visa’s transaction throughput), but to things like the Lightning Network.

                              I could point out a variety of other glaring issues but it’s time for lunch.

                              1. 4

                                The ACH Network does settlements. It processes 25 billion transactions a year.

                                Bitcoin maxes out at 210 million transactions per year (I multiplied 7 tps by 31557600 seconds per year)

                                If ACH took as much power per transaction as Bitcoin does, it really would be an ecological disaster.

                                1. 0

                                  You didn’t mention how much power the ACH network uses. It’s also a poor comparison (though a better one than VISA).

                                  1. 13

                                    I can’t find a place where they publish that info. So let’s massively overestimate:

                                    If the entire net electricity produced by the United States (321,879,000,000 kWh per year) went into the ACH Network, then it would take 12 kWh per transaction. That’s still less than Bitcoin’s 300 kWh per transaction.

                                    1. 5

                                      Also good: worldwide electricity production circa 2018 was about 26,000 TWh… So if Bitcoin took 25 TWh to process 81,000,000 transactions, migrating ACH to Bitcoin would result in a 300x increase in power usage assuming perfect scaling, to 7500 TWh — a third of the entire world’s electricity production. Assuming the more realistic 43 TWh number for Bitcoin, that works out to roughly half of the entire world’s electricity production to support the ACH Network’s transaction volume on Bitcoin.

                                      But actually Bitcoin would just fall over.

                                      1. 1

                                        Bitcoin uses less energy than that, and it uses exactly the correct amount of energy for what it does.

                                        Your making nonsensical comparisons doesn’t change that fact. You should be able to tell that the comparison is inappropriate because Bitcoin cannot scale to ACH’s size, so saying things like “it would just fall over” should be a clue that these are different systems doing different things.

                                        Try to use ACH in the way we use Bitcoin. You can’t.

                                        1. 3

                                          Bitcoin uses less energy than that, and it uses exactly the correct amount of energy for what it does.

                                          That blog post claims that econ 101 proves Bitcoin must use exactly the energy it needs to because it is P2P and anyone can mine (and if it didn’t use exactly the energy it needed to, anyone mining and using too much energy would go out of business).

                                          This is incorrect for two reasons:

                                          1. Econ 101 does not give a timeframe under which irrational behavior collapses, even as it insists it will. Repeatedly driving cars into walls is a decentralized operation, and yet the fact that it is one doesn’t make it a valuable use of energy, and even if a tulip mania arose for crashed car bodies it would be an incredibly wasteful way to transfer value.
                                          2. Even taking the blog post seriously, its fundamental premise is wrong. It claims that Bitcoin can be mined by anyone, so it is impossible to extract rents. But Bitcoin cannot be profitably mined by anyone: you need capital expenditures for dedicated mining rigs, and real estate near extremely cheap power. Bitcoin is hardly “decentralized”: because of this economic imbalance a few Chinese mining pools (who can get cheap electrical power, or in some cases are rumored to actually be Chinese power companies shedding excess electricity) control an estimated 60% of the mining power, which by the way is more than enough for a 51% attack. You’ve shifted your trust from regulated financial institutions with global operations and enormous government and private sector oversight to a few unregulated groups operating in China.

                                          FWIW, I don’t have strong opinions about cryptocurrency in general: I just think proof of work is untenable, because it quickly degenerates to “proof of ability to buy specialized hardware and get cheap electricity,” which is not really more efficient or trustworthy or anything compared to the traditional financial system.

                                          1. 0

                                            You know, I think this comment (the second part of it) is the closet thing I’ve seen to a legitimate criticism of Bitcoin in this entire thread, and that includes the Schneier essay. Kudos to you! 👏

                                            Let’s jump through some of the things you said:

                                            regulated financial institutions [..] government and private sector oversight

                                            This is a laughable claim. We all know these institutions are “regulated” in name only, and have no discernible oversight.

                                            Bitcoin is hardly “decentralized”

                                            It is true that Bitcoin has a mining-concentration problem in China. But, true as that may be, I still trust it over the criminal and unregulated banks who have run amok on this planet.

                                            Why? Well, because even in spite of this threat to its decentralization, Bitcoin continues to perform its duties and provide the services it claims it provides — as advertised.

                                            If and when that stops being true, I will certainly disavow it.

                                          2. 1

                                            it uses exactly the correct amount of energy for what it does

                                            It would use the exact “correct” amount of energy, as defined by pure economics, if it hadn’t undergone an investment bubble that allowed miners to sell 1 BTC for more than it’s actually worth.

                                            But that’s an economic argument. We’re not economists, and this isn’t a forum for economics. It’s a tech forum, so I’d rather stick to the question of whether it’s possible for Bitcoin to handle as many transactions as other settlement networks, not the question of whether bitcoin miners are behaving in an economically rational way.

                                            Try to use ACH in the way we use Bitcoin. You can’t.

                                            Why not? What exactly do you mean by “the way we use Bitcoin?”

                                            1. 3

                                              so I’d rather stick to the question of whether it’s possible for Bitcoin to handle as many transactions as other settlement networks

                                              The answer is no. ACH is centralized, Bitcoin is decentralized. That is why.

                                              For payments, the Lightning Network lets you securely and in a decentralized way conduct business at arbitrary transaction rates, at close to $0 fees, and without this energy usage you’re so concerned about for some reason (I say that because the concerns are bogus when you study them in depth).

                                              Why not? What exactly do you mean by “the way we use Bitcoin?”

                                              You might as well ask why does Bitcoin exist at all?

                                              As I said before, ACH is centralized. Bitcoin is decentralized. I cannot use ACH to send payments to people in countries all over the world without an immense amount of hassle, wasted time, and extremely high fees.

                                              With Bitcoin, I don’t even need an account. I don’t need to build a building and staff it with bank tellers. I don’t need to step foot in that building. It’s painless. And on top of that, I don’t have to worry about Bank theft (“asset forfeiture”) or mystery fee gouging or spam in my mailbox or Bank bailouts funded by taxpayers. Bitcoin is anti-tyranny, pro-freedom.

                                              1. 1

                                                The answer is no. ACH is centralized, Bitcoin is decentralized. That is why.

                                                Most decentralized networks scale to more traffic than their centralized counterparts.

                                                For payments, the Lightning Network

                                                The Lightning Network doesn’t do settlements, so it’s not a fair comparison to the ACH.

                                                You might as well ask why does Bitcoin exist at all?

                                                That’s a very good question. Money is a tool used by society for allocation. Do we really want human resources to be strictly governed by “what the database says”, regardless of whether people know that the money was acquired by stealing someone’s private key? Is “the government goes completely rogue” a part of anyone’s realistic threat model? It’s not like a military coup is going to care what the blockchain says anyhow; they’ll just offer not to shoot you in lieu of payment.

                                                I cannot use ACH to send payments to people in countries all over the world without an immense amount of hassle.

                                                You’re complaining about the existence of anti-money-laundering tooling, you dork.

                                                1. 3

                                                  Most decentralized networks scale to more traffic than their centralized counterparts.

                                                  Not decentralized consensus networks, which is what we’re talking about.

                                                  The Lightning Network doesn’t do settlements, so it’s not a fair comparison to the ACH.

                                                  ACH is centralized, Bitcoin is not, so that also isn’t a fair comparison.

                                                  Do we really want human resources to be strictly governed by “what the database says”, regardless of whether people know that the money was acquired by stealing someone’s private key?

                                                  There is no incompatibility between Bitcoin and the legal system as far as theft goes. If anything, Bitcoin probably gives you more evidence to bring a legal case against someone who stole your funds.

                                                  1. 3

                                                    ACH is centralized, Bitcoin is not, so that also isn’t a fair comparison.

                                                    Special Pleading. I’m done.

                                                    1. 0

                                                      I don’t see how, I clearly justified the significance in the other paragraphs. That you ignored them is on you, not me.

                                                  2. -1

                                                    anti-money-laundering

                                                    Like the ~$23 trillion unaccounted for by the Pentagon?

                                  2. 6

                                    You totally ignored notriddle’s points.

                                2. 2

                                  I know you’ll dismiss me by invoking some fallacy you can press my comment into, but saying

                                  … is politically motivated fake news as usual.

                                  really don’t help your point.

                              2. 7

                                He’s not telling people that have found that blockchain solves their problems that it doesn’t. He’s telling the general audience that it’s most likely not right for them.

                                1. -4

                                  He’s telling the general audience that it’s most likely not right for them.

                                  As someone mistaken about most of what he says, he’s not in a position to tell anyone anything about public blockchains.

                                  1. 4

                                    I didn’t say anything one way or the other about whether he’s right, just that you’re saying he’s saying something that he’s not and calling him arrogant for it.

                                2. 5

                                  That’s your refutation: that Bitcoin only uses 25-35Twh/year? And then that some people believe bitcoin solves problems so it is arrogant to say otherwise? Ok then.

                                  1. -1

                                    That’s not the refutation at all. The refutation is that Bitcoin uses less energy than the current financial system. Pretty good refutation if you ask me.

                                    It’s not my problem if people insist on ignoring that point and repeating that Bitcoin makes it easy to measure its energy usage, it’s theirs.

                                    1. 7

                                      Bitcoin does a tiny fraction of what the current financial system does. You could similarly argue that your oil burning 1976 chevy impala uses less gasoline than the current transportation system. I give up on you: if you really believe your arguments, you are squarely in the target audience for the ponzi scheme.

                                      1. -2

                                        Yes, best give up. I am not convinced by weak and ignorant arguments, no matter how often they’re repeated, or how big of a mob repeats them, especially online.

                                        Like this comment. Dude says nothing and gets 16 upvotes for it. That’s the type of quality discussion only Lobsters can be proud of. I’m not convinced I’m not talking to paid trolls.

                                        1. 5

                                          I’m not convinced I’m not talking to paid trolls.

                                          Aren’t you the one who offers blockchain consulting, and would therefore have an interest in protecting the systems’ reputation?

                                          1. 1

                                            Aren’t you the one who offers blockchain consulting, and would therefore have an interest in protecting the systems’ reputation?

                                            I do offer blockchain consulting, I do have an interest in protecting the system’s reputation (when it fairly deserves to be protected). None of that makes me a paid troll.

                                            Being a paid troll is being paid to troll, i.e. things like creating sock puppet accounts to upvote comments that contain nothing of substance, in order to protect a criminal financial system.

                                            Rational self-interest, arguments based on reason, and investing in something you believe in on its merits is completely different.

                                            1. 3

                                              I wasn’t saying you’re a paid troll, assuming such a thing seems ununderstandable in the first place. I was just saying that it seems that you have a fundamentally economical interest in the Blockchain, that would probably guide you’re incentives.

                                              It’s not like you can just change your mind and assume people will say “he admits that he was wrong about blockchains, what he invested time and labour into, but he’s just as credible as he was before”. Me, a nobody, on the other hand managed this, since I was never too vocal about my support, so changing my mind wasn’t hard.

                                              Btw, do you know where to apply when I want to get paid for opposing bitcoin? Any banks or other financial institutions you can recommend from experience?

                                              1. -1

                                                It’s not like you can just change your mind

                                                Sure I can. I am always interested in the truth first and foremost. Even you can convince me to change my mind by making a compelling argument. ^_^

                                                Btw, do you know where to apply when I want to get paid for opposing bitcoin? Any banks or other financial institutions you can recommend from experience?

                                                Lol, being a tool isn’t hard. It just requires a willingness on your part to be subservient.

                                                1. 3

                                                  Even you can convince me to change my mind by making a compelling argument. ^_^

                                                  I’m quite sure that you know more about it, after all you’re in the business of selling Blockchain ideas. I don’t see why either you or me should waste time for unpaid sophistry.

                                                  Lol, being a tool isn’t hard. It just requires a willingness on your part to be subservient.

                                                  Well yeah, but I don’t know where to start. Since you mentioned that people are paid to promote anti-bitcoin talking points, I was assuming you have some evidence that you help me? Like specific people actually paying specific real people?

                                                  1. -2

                                                    Yes, do a search on:

                                                    • government propaganda and troll farms
                                                    • psyops
                                                    • CIA infiltration of news organizations and fake stories
                                                    1. 4

                                                      Sadly none of these terms gave me any conclusive points to find someone willing to pay me for commenting on the web.

                                                      Are you sure that you have absolutely no direct and verifiable links to sources offering money in exchange for promoting anti-blockchain ideas? Not just vague references or suggestions on where to look. If you feel better, please use any of the methods listed here to send me the link to the person or persons willing to pay money: https://zge.us.to/

                                                      Hope you can help me.

                                                      1. -3

                                                        I showed you the door, only you can step through it. If you’re not trolling you should have no problem doing that. Send in your resumé to the organizations I mentioned, don’t be a chicken shit troll. They’re more than happy to hire folks like you. :)

                                            1. -2

                                              You sound like an excellent prospect for playing 3 card monte.

                                              1. 1

                                                Ad hominem doesn’t convince me of your arguments either. :)

                                      2. 2

                                        Thanks for the link addressing(and debunking) the “bitcoin is destroying the environment” argument. Pretty damning stuff which I will be pointing out in future discussions regarding this issue.

                                        1. 2

                                          Contrarianism gets clicks, no matter how unfounded.

                                          1. 13

                                            Oh no: false promises and hype of cryptocurrencies gets both clicks and massive investment by all kinds of people. No matter how unfounded. Then, this expert on risk whose watched many hype cycles wrote a risk assessment telling people to avoid this one. It got less clicks than a lot of popular content on Lobsters but did get higher-than-average clicks. That’s usually a sign I should pay closer attention to it because it might not be a fad.

                                            Of course, it isn’t like David Gerard’s articles haven’t been demolishing cryptocurrency BS here on a regular basis with more citations. This stuff didn’t come out of nowhere.

                                            1. -2

                                              Lol, David Gerard is a troll who posts laughable arguments that convince only people who haven’t studied the subject.

                                              false promises

                                              Name one?

                                              1. 3

                                                There’s one person in this thread who comes across as a troll (though I doubt they’re consciously trolling, rather deluding themselves because they’re invested in the cryptocurrency pyramid not collapsing just yet). It’s not David Gerard.

                                                1. -5

                                                  Powerful, convincing, technical arguments, and totally not emotional rhetorical devices.

                                                  *Yawn.*

                                        1. 1

                                          So, Jeffery Tucker may indeed be the sort of zealot who can blithely reduce all human values to the relative pricing of goods and services. He may even be wrong. But this little rant does a lousy job of presenting a counter-argument. If there’s ever really any evidence that ISPs are conspiring to censor or manipulate traffic content, won’t we just see increased consumer VPN use? And if they’re not conspiring, wouldn’t competition work against any individual would-be ISP censor? What exactly do we suppose they stand to gain by doing that, anyway?

                                          If we want to get upset about censorship and manipulation, we should be talking about Facebook and Google, not Comcast and Verizon. In my world anyway, what sucks about the latter pair (both before and after 2015) is their shitty service, bandwidth caps, and too-high prices.

                                          I probably shouldn’t fan the flames… but here are a couple of counter-counter-argument pieces I find much more convincing, despite their tinge of economic absolutism:

                                          1. 5

                                            I agree that platform providers are more directly interfering with speech. (e.g., Google’s Content ID system interferes with fair use on YouTube.)

                                            However, we do have evidence of ISPs manipulating traffic in favor of their own preferred content and services, cf. https://www.freepress.net/blog/2017/04/25/net-neutrality-violations-brief-history

                                            From the perspective of the FCC, Net Neutrality is about classifying ISPs as common carriers. Currently, ISPs like Comcast provide a bundle of services and Title II prevents them from giving priority to, say, their own video-on-demand service over Netflix.

                                            1. 4

                                              And if they’re not conspiring, wouldn’t competition work against any individual would-be ISP censor?

                                              There is hardly competition. If you have two choices, consider yourself lucky because as of June 2015, only 24% had two broadband ISPs. As of June 2016, FCC reports showed three-quarters of the US still lacked high-speed broadband choice.

                                              1. 2

                                                we should be talking about Facebook and Google

                                                Huh, I never considered that angle. They do control the content we see in a much more obvious way.

                                                Also, this article tries to ignore the cost of providing the internet and make it on principle. An article with cold hard numbers (not airy ideals) is an interview with Ajit Pai at http://reason.com/blog/2017/11/21/ajit-pai-net-neutrality-podcast

                                                1. 3

                                                  Those whose sensibilities are offended by “airy ideals” are welcome to dive down into the nitty gritty of why Ajit Pai is basically one of the most dishonest people there is in this “debate”.

                                                  Here are a few links to support that statement:

                                                  1. 2

                                                    ignore the cost of providing the internet

                                                    U-Haul charges you $n/day, which covers the cost of providing the truck. U-Haul doesn’t charge you more if you fill the truck with your massive MGM DVD collection than if you fill it with furniture. Once you pay for your 402 cubic feet, the capacity is yours to use as you please.

                                                    ISPs charge you to access the internet, which covers their cost of providing the internet. ISPs charge Netflix to access the internet, which also covers their cost of providing the internet. Once you and Netflix pay for your GBs, the capacity should be yours to use as you please.

                                                    However, the ISPs decided they wanted to charge Netflix for your wanting to access Netflix on the internet which you and Netflix had already paid for. Netflix didn’t want to, so ISPs blocked/throttled access to Netflix… until Netflix paid to stop the bleeding. Net Neutrality stops that bullshit.

                                                1. 5

                                                  Ugh… terrible arguments.

                                                  For those of us in the US (I’m going to ignore everyone else because I’m unfamiliar with the state of things in other countries) our First Amendment rights protect us from the government making any laws abridging freedom of speech. It’s a restraint on government, not on individuals or corporations. Individuals are free to discriminate based on speech.

                                                  Suppose you write a book, in the book your have some things that I find offensive. I’m free to not read your book or write bad reviews about your book because of my dislike for it. Anything less would be an infringement on my First Amendment rights. Now suppose I’m also a bookseller. My store is small but I sell many books. It’s my shop and I decide what to sell. Since I do not like your book I do not carry it. You may be upset with my decision to not carry your book as it will cause you to sell fewer copies. But it’s my store and I may do as I please. You may think my customers would object to me not carry your book, but most do not as they prefer my store because of the selection of books they I know I carry. It’s part of my competitive advantage against larger book stores. I’m still an individual, and choosing what I sell in my store is my First Amendment right, even though it affects my customers.

                                                  Net Neutrality is an important issue we need to talk about it. But Net Neutrality is not a free speech issue. It’s not. Period.

                                                  Facebook, Google, and Twitter have done far more to manipulate information and censor views they disagree with. Facebook is constantly manipulating our news feeds so we only see a select portion of the posts our friends make. Every month we learn of someone who was banned from Twitter because @Jack and friends decided the users tweets were offensive or hateful. What have ISPs done? Inject a few ads into web pages? Throttle some Netflix? That’s nothing.

                                                  1. 12

                                                    What have ISPs done?

                                                    1. 5

                                                      First Amendment rights protect us from the government making any laws abridging freedom of speech. It’s a restraint on government, not on individuals or corporations. Individuals are free to discriminate based on speech.

                                                      The First Amendment is a restraint on government AND any individual or business acting on behalf of the government.

                                                      A private business that has a mutually beneficial commercial arrangement with the government is acting on behalf of the government.

                                                      The federal government aims to provide all universal access to telecommunications and internet services. To this end, the Federal Government created the Universal Service Fund in 1996 to provide telecommunications and internet to all consumers (including schools, libraries, and individuals in rural, low-income, and high-cost regions) at reasonable non-discriminatory prices. This fund is paid for by individual consumers via the “Universal Service Fund” fee/tax on their monthly internet/phone bills. This fee/tax is then distributed from the Federal Government back to the ISPs through Lifeline and other programs.

                                                      In other words, ISPs are collecting a tax on behalf of the government, and then using the funds from that tax to, on behalf of the government, provide a service. One can clearly argue this pulls ISPs under the authority of the First Amendment.

                                                      1. 3

                                                        Ill add to your excellent list my experience when Comcast et al were talking capped plans versus unlimited. The cap was originally way too small. The bigger problem was the system that counted usage was counting mine when nothing was connected. They were either glitching or forging usage data to attempt to force me into buying unlimited plan.

                                                        That went into the FCC complaint.

                                                        1. 4

                                                          Comcast says their trackers were accurate…. but many others had similar complaints about wildly inaccurate readings (e.g. 300GB/day), and being offered the unlimited plan in lieu of an outrageous (inaccurate) bill.

                                                        2. 1

                                                          All of that predates the FCC’s net neutrality regulations of 2015, so presumably all of that would still be resolved as it was prior to 2015.

                                                          1. 6

                                                            In the 90s and early 00s, internet went over the phone lines which were considered Title II common carriers. Nascent broadband was considered an “information service” with more lax rules.

                                                            In 2005, ISPs argued that DSL should be considered an “information service” like broadband, instead of “common carrier” like phone lines. The FCC reclassified DSL and simultaneously laid out four voluntary principles of net neutrality.

                                                            That gets us to the hypothetical you’re talking about:

                                                            presumably all of that would still be resolved as it was prior to 2015

                                                            From 2005-2010, the FCC attempted to enforce net neutrality on the ISPs, which were classified as “information services”.

                                                            Comcast had a drawn-out legal battle over suppressing the Bittorrent protocol, and in 2008 the FCC ruled that Comcast had illegally inhibited Bittorrent activity. Comcast appealed the decision, and the court of appeals struck down the FCC’s ruling, arguing that the rules of net neutrality were not formal enough.

                                                            In 2010, the FCC formalized net neutrality by creating the Open Internet Order of 2010. This was immediately challenged by the ISPs, and Verizon filed suit in 2011. In 2014, the courts ruled in favor of Verizon, stating that the OIO rules could only be applied to Title II common carriers. So the FCC did the next logical step and reclassified broadband ISPs as Title II common carriers in 2015.

                                                            Now Ajit Pai is rolling that back, reclassifying broadband as an information service and completely nullifying any guarantees of net neutrality.

                                                            We can’t just go back to the way things were in 2005, because of the legal precedents which have occurred since then. Since 2014, the FCC cannot enforce net neutrality unless ISPs are considered common carriers.

                                                            1. 2

                                                              Yes exactly. This all happened before FCC’s “Title II” vote in 2015, making it an example of what ISPs do without net neutrality.

                                                              (Perhaps I misunderstand your comment?)

                                                          2. 6

                                                            What have ISPs done? Inject a few ads into web pages? Throttle some Netflix? That’s nothing.

                                                            Only because they haven’t been able to get away with much until now.

                                                            The thing is, I don’t want ISPs to be like a bookstore, with editorial discretion over what they allow you to connect to. ISPs ought to be dumb pipes. Especially with so little competition in a given region.

                                                            I do agree that mega-websites have more power than ISPs, and I’m all ears if you have suggestions on how to address that. But it doesn’t mean we should relent on net neutrality.

                                                            1. 2

                                                              I don’t think anybody is disagreeing that net neutrality is incredibly important. But it’s not a First Amendment issue. First Amendment-wise, ISPs are completely free to provide access to any selection of content they want.

                                                            2. 3

                                                              The book store is a good place to start thinking about this issue, as you’re absolutely right when talking about a small shop like that (because there are many other small shops), but that’s not what these ISPs are. These ISPs are giant mega-corporations whose customers number not in the hundreds but in the millions, whose customers often only have one ISP to choose from, and whose actions affect billions. The larger their influence, the greater the damage from them censoring speech, and the more government-like they become.

                                                              If you think killing free speech online is going to help your Facebook, Google and Twitter problems (and not make them 10 times worse), well, you are welcome to kill it and see what happens.

                                                              1. 4

                                                                You don’t foster competition with mega corporations by making the market harder to compete in. You foster competition by lowering the barrier to entry in the market. Primarily by reducing regulations since the overhead of complying with regulation disproportionately effects smaller businesses. With reduced regulations startups can easily differentiate themselves from the big players by offering novel services the big players don’t. Think about how cell phone plans have improved over the years. Data is cheaper than ever, even though it’s much more difficult to deliver data to mobile devices than homes. Carriers are free to differentiate their offerings by pitching things such as free data for music streaming from online services. It’s a net plus for the consumer.

                                                                I don’t like mega-corporations anymore than anyone else, but don’t forget Facebook, Google, and Twitter support Net Neutraility, and they control more of what we see online than any ISPs:

                                                                Largest ISPs by number of customers:

                                                                • Comcast: 25 million
                                                                • Charter: 23 million
                                                                • AT&T: 15 million

                                                                Web services by monthly US users:

                                                                • Facebook: 214 million
                                                                • Google: Wasn’t able to find stats online, Most likely higher than FB
                                                                • Twitter: 69 million

                                                                Now of course each ISP customer represents probably 3-4 users. Even with that factored in FB, Google, and Twitter still have more influence than the top three ISPs. And that’s excluding others like YouTube and Yahoo.

                                                                If you think killing free speech online is going to help your Facebook, Google and Twitter problems (and not make them 10 times worse), well, you are welcome to kill it and see what happens.

                                                                It doesn’t sound like you want to have an honest discussion about this important issue. I’m not going to be responding to any more comments on this thread. Good day.

                                                                sources:

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  Data is cheaper than ever, even though it’s much more difficult to delivery data to mobile devices than homes.

                                                                  Is it, though? Last-mile wire installation is notoriously problematic. In contrast a wireless tower can cover a large area.

                                                                  I’m very excited for satellite internet. Should only be a few more years until it’s widely available…

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    Satellite internet access has been sporadically available for decades. It’s super expensive to deploy or repair (hah!) the equipment. Lots of money burned up so far. The latency is awful, and there’s not much to do about it unless you can change the speed of light. Only makes sense in remote areas with low population density. Even there, you’re better off with point-to-point long-distance wifi.

                                                                    1. 2

                                                                      Yeah the latency with geosynchronous satellites is pretty awful. What I’m looking forward to is low-earth-orbit satellite internet by OneWeb and SpaceX. “OneWeb’s 50Mbps Internet with 30ms latency could hit remotest areas by 2019.”

                                                            1. 4

                                                              It’s a property rights issue, not a speech issue. The Tier 1-3 ISP’s built the pipes with their money as private companies. They will claim the right to do whatever they want with them. Then, we put regulations in place saying that private property is too important to let them do just anything. That’s gone back and forth with a subversion happening recently where a person representing their interests was put in the place that’s supposed to represent ours (in theory). He’s making sure the ISP’s get what they want. At this point, citizens are supposed to defend themselves with market choices if possible (mostly not), votes, courts, and lethal force as last resort. Most citizens aren’t going to do anything. So, subversion will work until next set of politicians comes in at the least who can reign in or replace the guy. However, both state and federal Congress takes a lot of bribes from telecom industry.

                                                              See how I directly talk about it as what it is from private property to regulations for public benefit to bribery of politicians? That’s how we should talk about it instead of legal theories that have nothing to do with what’s actually going on. What’s actually going on is simple: an oligopoly cartel that makes billions and wants more billions bribed politicians to get those extra billions while few people tried to do anything about it. The end. Drumming that into the public’s skulls along with what they lose in such situations, esp good service and cheap Internet.

                                                              1. 6

                                                                It’s a property rights issue, not a speech issue.

                                                                It is (also) a freedom of speech issue.

                                                                But considering the “private property” argument…

                                                                The Tier 1-3 ISP’s built the pipes with their money as private companies. They will claim the right to do whatever they want with them.

                                                                Regardless of whose money* they used to build the pipes, the property rights of private companies can and have been regulated to protect consumers.

                                                                Private individuals and companies built the railroads, and claimed the right to do whatever they wanted with them. Railroads quickly became a primary form of transportation.

                                                                The lack of competition allowed them to abuse their power and charge prices that discriminated against smaller businesses. There was public outcry, which resulted in various state laws, which SCOTUS declared unconstitutional under the commerce clause.

                                                                Then, in 1887, Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act, which made price discrimination illegal and required railroads to publish rates. In 1980, once the railways finally had competition again (the trucking industry and the interstate highway system) Congress passed the Staggers Rail Act, which significantly deregulated the railroad industry. It allowed rail carriers the freedom to establish rates for their services except in cases where there was no rail competition, and to establish contracts without federal review unless it affected their ability to provide common carrier service.

                                                                Likewise, ISPs can and should be regulated to protect consumers, at least and until there is significant competition again for information transport and telecommunications (e.g. mesh networks and transporters).

                                                                * Taxpayers certainly foot part of the bill. For example:

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  First, you’re talking to a pro-net neutrality person whose taken regulatory action against ISP’s. You don’t need to convince me. I will add the links to my collection, though. :)

                                                                  Next, that they’ve taken money doesn’t automatically connect their behavior to what government’s is. If anything, you might be really stretching some grey areas of law like they’re black and white. Especially with your link being to a government agency established for a specific purpose instead of a for-profit, publicly-traded corporation operating under entirely different laws and expectations. There’s private parties taking subsidies or tax benefits from the government all the time with them otherwise still expected to act like private parties. They might be expected to do specific things in exchange for that. For instance, rolling out Internet in to groups in areas that don’t have it. They don’t have to do anything past those promises. It’s why I’m against handing out tax dollars to dirty companies to do things for public benefit when I know they might sabotage them in short or long term. Non-profits or cooperatives with carefully-written charters were always better for that.

                                                                  With that background, it’s still a property rights issue unless a law passes that equates how ISP’s manage their fiber with government protections on free speech. Personally, I’d like to see some equivalence passed for at least what consumers do on what pipes they pay for since those activities can be extensions of free speech. Heads of Google or Facebook teamed up with a political party to manipulate their users’ perceptions in specific ways plus cut off dissidents could do far more damage to free discourse than a government official.

                                                                2. 1

                                                                  a person representing their interests

                                                                  I don’t suppose you mean this guy? He has a lot more visible cartel credibility (in terms of his background) than the current FCC chief.

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    We thought that but he flipped on them. He did good. Current one, who is ex-Verizon IIRC, is trying to roll his stuff back.

                                                                1. 7

                                                                  More details on this story:

                                                                  1. Vox posts a story claiming to “debunk” the video, saying that Google censors autocomplete for the word “crime” for everyone
                                                                  2. I point out that the video used the word “indictment” as well, and that depending on which search field you do the autocomplete, it either does or does not autocomplete it
                                                                  3. Author of the Vox article asks me to show that it’s different for others, using Bill Cosby as the example
                                                                  4. I “prove” that in fact Google does behave differently for Bill Cosby vs HRC
                                                                  1. 8

                                                                    Entertainingly, on HN submitting this redirects to “This has already been submitted” but without redirecting to the submission page.

                                                                    So, censorship is alive and well.

                                                                    Make America Great Again, folks. :)

                                                                    1. 3

                                                                      Search turns up this, which has a bit of a discussion but is also marked [dupe].

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        Update for historical note:

                                                                        Later attempts to duplicate this behavior resulted in a brand new story being created. Given the helpful links elsewhere here have shown that other submissions both exist and were sometimes marked as duplicates, I suspect there may be some kind of bug here.

                                                                        If you want to test this, try making a story using one of the URLs from a story on the “new” page…it’ll redirect you to the already-submitted story and give it an upvote (which makes sense).

                                                                        If it doesn’t do this, it will either make a new story, or it will give you the “This has already been submitted” page. I suspect, but don’t have the source to show, that this is due to the way flagging works on HN. @dang explained in one of the comments that the users had flagged it to death, so I figure that might be what happened.

                                                                        1. -4

                                                                          This is probably true, and even if the Clinton campaign is involved (which is probably not true) I would still argue that Trump is worse. A Trump victory would prove that you can use Y Combinator/Paul Buchheit/Silicon Valley bullying tactics and still get elected. It would be the ultimate vindication of Sand Hill Road’s might-makes-right culture. Do not want.

                                                                        2. 1

                                                                          Seems like the browser suggests up to 5 words, while the website stops at 4; I think this explains the discrepancies you’ve found. There seems to be an additional effect where Google doesn’t suggest “crimes” or “indictment” following someone’s full name, but they do if you just use the last name: here are 20 searches I did that seem to bear out that theory.

                                                                          Of course Google may still be actively supporting HRC, and screening out “crimes” and “indictment” after someone’s full name helps HRC more than anyone else at this time. It’s a shame we don’t have similar screenshots from 2 years ago; if this search suggestion screening was relatively new it would be much more illustrative.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            Seems like the browser suggests up to 5 words, while the website stops at 4; I think this explains the discrepancies you’ve found.

                                                                            If that were true it would cut off the suggestions from the bottom, not from the top.

                                                                            There seems to be an additional effect where Google doesn’t suggest “crimes” or “indictment” following someone’s full name

                                                                            As shown in these screenshots, yes it does.

                                                                            I’m gonna put a stake in the ground and basically say: cut the bullshit and apologetics. This is inexcusable. None of the other search engines behave this way. It is clear Google is grossly abusing its power here. This sort of thing should land people in jail, it’s a shame the law hasn’t caught up to it.

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              This sort of thing should land people in jail, it’s a shame the law hasn’t caught up to it.

                                                                              Not that I don’t agree with you, but what’s your reasoning why this should merit jail time? What existing legal precedent would you go about basing this on?

                                                                              1. 0

                                                                                What existing legal precedent would you go about basing this on?

                                                                                Rigging elections?

                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                  Is Google conducting the election?

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    You don’t have to conduct an election to be guilty of rigging it. [1]

                                                                                    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_fraud#Specific_methods

                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                      And which method is Google using and which law are they breaking?

                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                        I would say Misinformation is the one that most closely applies, but I agree with @angersock that there are stronger cases such as false-advertising.

                                                                                        However, Google is making it difficult to study its behavior and gather evidence.

                                                                                  2. 3

                                                                                    Try again–as @tedu points out, Google isn’t running the election.

                                                                                    The current action is more in the spirit of really one-sided news coverage that favors a particular candidate…you know, like the Democratic party did to Sanders for most of this cycle. :)

                                                                                    EDIT:

                                                                                    And that’s the key argument to be made.

                                                                                    Forcing Google to show disfavorable entries for Clinton is the exact same mechanism as would be used to force them to show, say, favorable entries for Trump. Or, to force you to have false testimony: in all of these cases, it would be the law compelling you to speak out in a fashion you do not wish to.

                                                                                    So, it isn’t a great idea to say “Ah, these people should be thrown in jail for not saying something we think they should be saying!”.

                                                                                    A safer argument would be to say “Hey, you advertise yourself as a correct and accurate search engine, and according to these test cases, you are advertising falsely.” That’s something that, I believe, does have precedent in the US.

                                                                                    Plus, it would be less likely to be used to stifle freedoms further later.

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      A safer argument would be to say “Hey, you advertise yourself as a correct and accurate search engine, and according to these test cases, you are advertising falsely.” That’s something that, I believe, does have precedent in the US.

                                                                                      OK, fair enough. I agree that the major issue here is one of expectation. People expect their search engines to behave accurately and without bias, and not like Fox News. This expectation was created by the search engines themselves.

                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                        You’re basically saying, “the law hasn’t caught up with the new media yet, so it’s technically legal”.

                                                                                        Morally though, being a major information source and manipulating the information people can see basically amounts to propaganda. And people have been hung for propaganda, you know.

                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                          Is Google suppressing autocomplete for Clinton indictments in any way comparable to the manipulations of Pulitzer? The law has had more than 100 years to catch up to yellow journalism.

                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                            I don’t know. I don’t even know if it supresses search results selectively at all. I just think that @angersock’s argument is not too good.

                                                                                  3. 1

                                                                                    Seems like the browser suggests up to 5 words, while the website stops at 4; I think this explains the discrepancies you’ve found.

                                                                                    If that were true it would cut off the suggestions from the bottom, not from the top. That’s why “hillary clinton indictment for emails” only shows up on the browser, same with “bill cosby indiana state university.” They have 5 words and the website’s suggestions seem to have a limit of 4 words.

                                                                                    No I actually meant that the website’s suggestions are limited to 4 words, not that the number of suggestions is limited.

                                                                                    There seems to be an additional effect where Google doesn’t suggest “crimes” or “indictment” following someone’s full name

                                                                                    As shown in these screenshots, yes it does.

                                                                                    Yes what does? I think maybe you misread my comment?

                                                                                    I’m gonna put a stake in the ground and basically say: cut the bullshit and apologetics. This is inexcusable. None of the other search engines behave this way. It is clear Google is grossly abusing its power here. This sort of thing should land people in jail, it’s a shame the law hasn’t caught up to it.

                                                                                    You still haven’t provided any evidence that Google is manipulating search results to specifically benefit HRC. Your comparisons between browser address bar suggestions and Google website suggestions aren’t comprehensive enough and if you look at the 20 searches I tried it seems to be 100% explained by (a) not suggesting words like “crimes” after someone’s full name and (b) a limit of 4 words on the length of suggestions provided by the website interface.

                                                                                    There are some anomalies like in one of your screenshots where the browser suggests “hillary clinton indictment for emails” and in my screenshot where the website suggests “george bush criminal minds” – this could just be the result of some implementation detail, such as screening out “[full name] criminal” and “[full name] indictment” but not longer strings containing those words.

                                                                                    I also feel like we’re really on the same side, I have a distaste for HRC just as you do but I think we should be careful before pointing fingers. Otherwise we lose credibility. And there are 100% verifiable things to protest that are just as fucked up, like Google’s support for the TPP.

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      I’m sorry, but I’m tired of repeating myself, so I’ll just refer you to this tweet and this comment.

                                                                                      Also note that since this story blew up Google Trends stopped working, so have fun calling for research when it’s impossible.

                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                        I don’t use twitter so maybe there’s some context I’m missing… but all I see is a screenshot of a paragraph about the autocomplete algorithm, and another screen shot of donald trump auto-completing with “racist.” You’re gonna have to spell it out for me if this somehow responds to my previous comment.

                                                                                        The comment you linked to seems to be saying that your argument is more based on the idea that having “hillary clinton cri” not auto-complete to “hillary clinton crimes” has an impact, whether or not their system is doing something special for Hillary Clinton. Is this your argument?

                                                                                        If so I agree with you, it seems pretty close to what I said 2 comments back:

                                                                                        Of course Google may still be actively supporting HRC, and screening out “crimes” and “indictment” after someone’s full name helps HRC more than anyone else at this time.

                                                                                        Is this the gist of your argument? Or are you making some stronger claim?

                                                                                    2. 0

                                                                                      Imo accusing everyone who is investigating possible confounding factors of being in league with The Man for suggesting confounding factors (because even the possible existence of confounding factors is apologist) isn’t really helpful if your goal is to reverse-engineer what the search engine is actually doing.

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        Imo accusing everyone who is investigating possible confounding factors of being in league with The Man

                                                                                        Please quote or link to where I do that.

                                                                                        if your goal is to reverse-engineer what the search engine is actually doing.

                                                                                        My goal is not “to reverse-engineer what the search engine is actually doing”. It’s to point out what it’s actually doing. I don’t need knowledge of Google’s code to do that, just like I don’t need someone’s DNA to be able to tell they’re behaving badly.

                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                          You don’t need knowledge of their code, but you need to look at possible ways different outputs can be generated, and look at which theories are consistent with the evidence. You seem uninterested in that because one particular theory is more interesting to you than others, so they aren’t worth investigating and only “apologists” could be interested in asking whether you have actually rigorously ruled them out. (And your screenshots are a pretty poor, ad-hoc attempt at reverse engineering.)

                                                                                          1. 0

                                                                                            You did not actually say anything there. I’m not interested in having a meta conversation about your perceptions of what it is that I am or am not doing. Happy to talk facts though.

                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                              I’d be happy to talk facts when you’ve acquired any. You claim to have proved something about how Google censors search results, but you don’t have any real evidence of this. Your “evidence” seems to consist entirely of a small sample of screenshots of search results, and no systematic attempt to rule out various explanations for the patterns observed (which are in such a small sample size you can barely see much of a pattern anyway). When people have attempted to discuss whether there are alternate explanations for the (barely) patterns, you’ve attacked them as apologists for suggesting it. Attacking people who point out that your evidence is poor is not an ideal solution; improving the evidence would be better.

                                                                                              I was positively disposed to this thread when it was first posted mostly because I had assumed you’d done some actual investigation, but now that I look more, it looks sorta bullshit, like you did 10 Google searches and then ran directly to social media to yell about it, without doing any real systematic investigation.

                                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                                Perhaps there’s a miscommunication here.

                                                                                                no systematic attempt to rule out various explanations for the patterns observed

                                                                                                It sounds to me like itistoday is making an argument somewhat along the lines of res ipso – the end result (i.e. Google treats “Hilary…” searches different for at least some people) is unacceptable and needs to be addressed & fixed, and it’s less important whether that result was a 100% intended effect or a side effect. Screenshots of “this happened to me” and links to “it happened to others, too” is sufficient evidence for such a claim, and “maybe they didn’t mean to” and “it doesn’t happen to everyone” are not arguments directly against it.

                                                                                                “Google intends to manipulate the election and explicitly coded x behavior to manipulate the election”, however, would be a completely different argument, and “here’s how it might have been an accident” and “it doesn’t happen to everyone” are arguments/evidence against that claim.

                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                  When people have attempted to discuss whether there are alternate explanations for the (barely) patterns, you’ve attacked them as apologists for suggesting it

                                                                                                  This is simply not true. I gave reasons.

                                                                                    3. -2

                                                                                      I’m afraid that your life is about to get more complicated. I’ve been there. Reach me privately if you need support, or anything else.

                                                                                      I doubt that she or her campaign asked for this. Seeing as it’s more likely a rogue Googler rather than Schmidt (or Page) himself, it wouldn’t surprise me if this were a right-winger trying to tarnish Clinton with the association, given not only the existing Techies vs. Real Americans tension, but how much worse it is going to get in the next few years.

                                                                                    1. 8

                                                                                      Might be related in some way, but having looked over some of his papers on LinkedIn, and having seen the screenshots of the blog posts in these articles, I personally doubt it’s him.

                                                                                      Then again, I honestly despise all of these attempts to put the label of Satoshi on anyone. Whoever (t|s)?hey? (is|are), Satoshi clearly wants to be anonymous, and given the value we’ve received from him/her/them, I personally prefer to express my gratitude by honoring that simple request.

                                                                                      I much prefer this sort of sentiment:

                                                                                      “At that moment, the crypto-currency enthusiast realized that the real Satoshi had been in his heart all along.”

                                                                                      1. 5

                                                                                        Then again, I honestly despise all of these attempts to put the label of Satoshi on anyone. Whoever (t|s)?hey? (is|are), Satoshi clearly wants to be anonymous, and given the value we’ve received from him/her/them, I personally prefer to express my gratitude by honoring that simple request.

                                                                                        While I generally agree that requests for privacy should not be ignored, I don’t see it as simple nor in any way springing from the value we’ve received.

                                                                                        a) The value an impact is debatable, so I don’t see how attaching the plea for privacy to that perceived value makes any sense. If I see bitcoin as harmful, do I gain a different moral position to talk about his privacy wish?

                                                                                        b) It is also not simple. Satoshi is a person that created something of high impact and as such a person of historical interest. He’s able to answer a lot of interesting questions. While I agree that privacy is still something that can be preserved, I can also see an interest in his identity.

                                                                                        c) Out of personal experience, I can say that the respect for the request to stay anonymous is widely differing at whim depending on the topic spoken about. Also compare that to e.g. court cases where the privacy of the defendant is always somewhat of a sliding scale depending on the accusation.

                                                                                        There’s harm done though by false accusations and I would hold back on speaking too much about this actual person until we can be sure.

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          There’s harm done though by false accusations and I would hold back on speaking too much about this actual person until we can be sure.

                                                                                          Now it seems this was an extortion attempt. @algernon also links to evidence that the GPG key was fabricated.

                                                                                        2. 7

                                                                                          What about those of us who think Satoshi has inflicted a huge negative externality on the rest of the world?

                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                            How so?

                                                                                            1. 7

                                                                                              Bitcoin makes it harder for societies to enforce rules and easier for individuals or small groups to work around them. I think this damages all our ability to solve coördination problems, which is the biggest problem facing societies that have free markets, liberal values and all the rest of it. See http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/

                                                                                              1. 9

                                                                                                s/societies/governments/g

                                                                                                Please don’t conflate government with society, those are two very different things. Incidentally, for me, Bitcoin’s ability to undermine the harmful influence of centralized government is one of the most attractive qualities of Satoshi’s invention.

                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                  No, I’m pretty sure Bitcoin helps people evade any societal rules, whether enforced via the mechanism of government or by some other means.

                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                    I’m pretty sure Bitcoin helps people evade any societal rules

                                                                                                    That’s like saying “I’m pretty sure freedom of will helps people evade any societal rules”. Yeah, it does, and that’s a beautiful thing. “Societal rules” cannot even prevent murder from happening (and no technology is necessary for that).

                                                                                                    The world does actually have (seemingly) infallible rules called the laws of physics, but beyond that you cannot (and should not) try to force your control over other people’s lives. You’re welcome to try, but you won’t succeed, so it’s better to realize that maybe there’s a reason people (a society even) is choosing to not cooperate with some “rules” that someone decided to put down on paper.

                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                      “Societal rules” cannot even prevent murder from happening

                                                                                                      Reducing the probability of murder by a couple of orders of magnitude is good enough for me.

                                                                                                  2. 1

                                                                                                    except it takes everyone’s transactions and effectively centralizes them in one block chain. This is obviously much more centralized than me giving you paper currency.

                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                      except it takes everyone’s transactions and effectively centralizes them in one block chain.

                                                                                                      That’s a misunderstanding of what the words “centralized” and “decentralized” mean. First off, it doesn’t “take everyone’s transactions”. It concerns itself only with Bitcoin transactions (and there are many blockchains, sidechains, altcoins, and even chains-within-chains).

                                                                                                      Second, there isn’t “one Bitcoin blockchain” but rather a fork choice rule for deciding which is the “correct blockchain”. Both the location and the control over the blockchain is decentralized.

                                                                                                      Finally, for any digital currency, a ledger of ordered transactions is required to make the currency work, whether or not that ledger is centralized or decentralized. The centralized ledgers (like Liberty Dollar), are simply not secure and are vulnerable to trivial manipulation or shut down.

                                                                                                      See also: Deconfusing Decentralization

                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                        By “all transactions” i obviously meant bitcoin transactions.

                                                                                                        Finally, for any digital currency, a ledger of ordered transactions is required to make the currency work

                                                                                                        This is a limitation of digital currency. Again, the ledger must be public and for it to work there must be the one “correct” ledger, as you stated.

                                                                                                        This is still centralized with replication. Because at any one time, there is only one “correct” ledger that gets replicated across the network. This is no different than using google, which is centralized but behind the scenes is built on decentralized tech. The only difference is not one entity controls the bitcoin machines, but the community.

                                                                                                        In other words, there is no digital equivalent of paper currency.

                                                                                                        My opinion about this is straight forward. I don’t want to see a future with decentralized currency. I want to see a future without ANY currency. Because digital currency for me isn’t decentralized enough. We need to do better.

                                                                                                2. 5

                                                                                                  It is considered declasse to admit in bitcoin circles that drugs, gambling, extortion, and other crimes are the plurality (if not majority) uses.

                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                    I always thought the first two are not only admitted, but admitted with a certain rebel pride.

                                                                                                    Re: drugs, here’s an olden goldie that one may wonder about https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/11/06/how-the-fbi-just-made-the-world-a-more-dangerous-place-by-shutting-down-silkroad-2-0-and-a-bunch-of-online-drug-markets/

                                                                                                    By taking drug transactions off the street and putting them online, you eliminate a significant link in the chain of violence between drug suppliers and end users. Drugs purchased online are typically less adulterated with dangerous contaminants than street drugs are, and a system of reviews rewards sellers who provide high-quality product.

                                                                                                    Maybe it’s not all bad.

                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                      For me, the only thing on that list worth calling a crime is extortion. Extortion is a real crime (one not unique to Bitcoin). Gambling is exploitation and predation, but a different level from extortion. Drugs on the other hand, are only a “crime” on paper in some places. The drug war itself is more appropriately compared to a global holocaust in terms of sheer number of lives lost or destroyed, and that Bitcoin can help address that problem is one of its greatest virtues.

                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                        By being untraceable, Bitcoin doesn’t enable particular crimes, but crimes in general. I agree with you on the drug war, but are you also for trading weapons and radioactive waste, human trafficking, tax evasion, financial machinations and The Assasination Market? We, as a society, decided that certain financial transactions are illegal, and it’s not Nakamoto’s job to override our decisions. If the society is against the war on drugs but it’s still going on, we should fix democracy, not replace it with mob rule.

                                                                                                        Besides, Bitcoin doesn’t stop the drug war. If a suitcase of heroin is found in your house, you’re still going to jail. Bitcoin only gives more power to Mexican drug cartels, escalating the war further. I want to see drug producers, distributors and sellers regulated, making them look like Glenfiddich, <mumble> and supermarkets, and Bitcoin is not helping.

                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                          We, as a society, decided that certain financial transactions are illegal, and it’s not Nakamoto’s job to override our decisions.

                                                                                                          You don’t speak for “society”. It’s especially ironic when the actual decision makers on this topic have constituted less than 1% of “society” to date.

                                                                                                          By being untraceable, Bitcoin

                                                                                                          Bitcoin is not untraceable. Cash is more untraceable.

                                                                                                          If the society is against the war on drugs but it’s still going on, we should fix democracy

                                                                                                          That is what blockchains are doing.

                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                            You don’t speak for “society”.

                                                                                                            I’m just explaining it as I see it. It’s Nakamoto who’s trying to decide for the society.

                                                                                                            It’s especially ironic when the actual decision makers on this topic have constituted less than 1% of “society” to date.

                                                                                                            I vote. And if it doesn’t work, we should fix the system.

                                                                                                            Bitcoin is not untraceable. Cash is more untraceable.

                                                                                                            I may have used the wrong term, but with Bitcoin one can pay without knowing where the money goes, which enables all kinds of “business models”.

                                                                                                            If the society is against the war on drugs but it’s still going on, we should fix democracy

                                                                                                            That is what blockchains are doing.

                                                                                                            That’s the thing, no. Individual freedoms and democracy are different things. Democracy is a system of government, which blockchains specifically try to subvert.

                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                              Individual freedoms and democracy are different things.

                                                                                                              They are, and thank god for that.

                                                                                                              Democracy is a system of government

                                                                                                              Wherein 0.00008% of the population decides the rules for the rest to follow. I’m not making that number up. No thanks.

                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                Wherein 0.00008% of the population decides the rules for the rest to follow. I’m not making that number up.

                                                                                                                How did you arrive at this number? The electorate decides who gets to decide the rules.

                                                                                                                No thanks.

                                                                                                                What do you propose? Anarchy?

                                                                                                                Look, I get your issues with politicians telling you what to do. But where I live it’s safe to walk around at night alone. Murders and muggings are quite rare. I can order food anywhere without being concerned of poisoning. If I take a bus, a train or a plane, I’m very very likely to arrive to the destination alive. Somebody builds roads and maintains parks. When I lay on asphalt bleeding, people drive me away and fix me up. I’m quite confident I won’t ever starve to death, no matter what. There’s no slavery or child labour in sight. All of this is possible because we organized in a structure different from roaming bands of mutants. If this doesn’t warrant spelling society without ironic quotation marks, I don’t know what does.

                                                                                                    2. 4

                                                                                                      There’s also concerns about carbon footprint

                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                        That’s a good point. There’s another analysis of Bitcoin’s energy consumption here.

                                                                                                        But remember: All payment systems require energy. What is the energy consumption of fiat, with its multitude of air conditioned 9-5 buildings, its fleets of armored cars and ATMs, and its high-tech printing processes?

                                                                                                    3. 5

                                                                                                      Bad think detected.