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Mike Hearn

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Mike Hearn last won the day on June 28 2014

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  1. Block chain voting on DFS proposal

    Notice of what effort?
  2. Block chain voting on DFS proposal

    In his recent blog post, Jim suggested that perhaps the Bitcoin community could vote on proposed changes to the NY DFS proposal (e.g. delete it/modify parts of it) in a proof-of-stake type arrangement. He asked if I'd start a discussion on this, which I am happy to do. Although the potential for casting votes with bitcoins by signing messages has always existed, we have never made much use of this functionality because the thing that's most obviously useful to "vote" on (changes to the ruleset) are voted on by the economic majority by selecting which version of the software they will use. For things that are NOT about how Bitcoin works but are still of wide-ranging interest to the community that approach obviously doesn't work. This topic brings up a lot of obvious questions, like: Would voting weighted according to how much money you have be seen as democratically legitimate? Usually not, though perhaps for things directly relevant to a financial system could be the case as obviously people with more money are more affected by rules affecting that money. Saying "there's $400M worth of money behind this vote" is potentially quite impressive as the economic impact of those vote-casters is obvious. How would it be implemented? Signing a message with a specific key/address is easy if you're a geek and your wallet supports it. But most wallets don't support signing with lots of keys simultaneously, and copy/pasting gobbledegook base64 encoded signatures around is probably rather offputting to many of our users now. So it'd seem like vote-casting would need to be a feature of wallet apps. Is it possible to build a good implementation of the concept, launch it, and get widespread adoption within the unreasonably short 45 day period Lawsky is providing? If not would it be useful for future repeats of this situation? What about offline cold storage wallets like coinbase, exchanges, etc? There are large sums of money at these institutions. How would such a vote be designed, e.g. simply majority, Condorcet voting etc? Privacy; until zkSNARKS are further along there's no way to engage in a zero knowledge proof of coin. So some other way to do unlinkability would need to be found e.g. submitting votes via Tor. Many more ... I don't personally have any time to implement such a thing right now, although I'd be happy to give free opinions on how to do it. But, I guess this is not the first or last issue that the Bitcoin community may wish to "speak" on, so perhaps someone else will be interested. One side note: you may believe that if you don't live in New York the proposed "BitLicense" does not affect you. Unfortunately it does. Firstly, this is an example of an extra-territorial law which states that everyone, everywhere has to obey it. Presumably enforcement would be based on capturing people who flew over US airspace, abuse of weak extradition agreements or luring people to US controlled areas using honey traps, etc (all techniques America has used in the past). Such laws are cropping up with increasing regularity outside the USA too - governments have been responding quite badly to the new globalised world. Secondly because the DFS is first, other countries and regulators might be tempted to copy the same approach. Thirdly because New York is a big and important city, and having it become a bad place to create Bitcoin businesses would just inherently reduce development and slow things down.
  3. I wrote a blog post on the topic of mining decentralisation for the Foundation blog, but it hasn't gone live yet.
  4. The foundation does fund development! To the tune of three full time guys, that's critical, because otherwise the maintainers would probably be employed doing something else. Things that could be done but which aren't really making much progress: proper resource scheduling for DoS resistance (our current anti-DoS strategy is not excellent) - this is also a big scalability issue, chain pruning, vending high quality IP address lists in getaddr so SPV nodes don't have to rely on DNS seeds so much, link-level encryption (maybe), a new transaction version that fixes malleability and allows low trust calculation of floating tx fees, improvements to Script such as new signature types, better unit testing infrastructure, better monitoring and metrics infrastructure .... and that's just Bitcoin Core consensus related code, it doesn't include any wallet features. And then there's miner decentralisation stuff too. So there's absolutely lots to do.
  5. Finding small tasks to get people involved is difficult, especially on Bitcoin Core. Everyone loves to say "unit testing" mostly because nobody else wants to work on it, which isn't great. If you dig in you'll quickly find that the code lacks basic unit testing infrastructure: every time I try to write some myself I come away frustrated. It'd require a lot of work and refactoring to make Core really testable; it was written by a guy (Satoshi) who had apparently been bypassed by the unit testing religion. So that'd be a huge and useful contribution but not a very exciting one, I'm afraid. Right now big chunks of the system are tested by Matt's pull tester, which is written in Java. Other tasks that need doing are mostly large and/or run into what I can only describe as political/philosophical issues around design.
  6. Bitcoin stocks and securities - what will happen to them?

    Actually Satoshi did not "pre mine". That's an invention of the alt coin world. He started mining more or less simultaneously with announcing Bitcoin. If you had been paying attention to the cryptography mailing list at the time, you could have taken part in the earliest issuances as well. Thus I do not believe Bitcoin is a security under any reasonable definition.
  7. Multisig HD wallets initiative

    The bounties are specified as upgrades to bitcoinj rather than just any multisig-capable wallet (in which case BitGo/Greenaddress.it would have been first).
  8. Bitcoin trademark

    Last I heard this was owned by Mt Gox and had not been transferred to the Foundation. Given that Gox is now dead, is there a plan to get the trademark somewhere it can't be abused?
  9. Wall Street Journal - Front Page

    Banks are already opposing Bitcoin, there's an almost total Bitcoin blockade just because banks fear anything that doesn't support the status quo (it's "risky" from their perspective). Bitcoin doesn't have to threaten banks, it just has to be something they aren't in total control of for them to feel insecure and scared of AML regulators, some of whom have historically been stunningly brutal and aggressive towards bankers. So yeah, that's obviously one of many risks. Mostly I tend to worry that the final product won't be that compelling to people, i.e. Bitcoin will just be outcompeted by the banks. No one single cause, just a "death by a thousand cuts" sort of problem. I talk about Visa scale when I talk about scalability to give people a reference point, not because I think Bitcoin will actually process Visa levels of traffic anytime soon. PayPal might be a better reference point (~50tps) but Visa is what Satoshi used to prove scalability wasn't a reason Bitcoin would fail, so I stuck with it. As there are no consumer SPV wallets except those based on my code, if I hadn't done bitcoinj then all regular users of Bitcoin would probably be on highly centralised web wallets by now. If Bitcoin is to have any chance of being competitive at all then it's going to take a lot of work. But it seems worth a try, doesn't it?
  10. Wall Street Journal - Front Page

    Well, what definition of success are you using? I was using something like "a decent number of the people around me use Bitcoin, despite not caring about technology or ideology". The chances of reaching such a success are slim. But that's OK, there are other kinds of success that would also be satisfying and enjoyable. But it's really important we're realistic about this. With less important things like sports teams it's OK if people are blind cheerleaders because there's no significant outcome to being wrong. But with Bitcoin, blind cheerleading can tempt people to invest money they can't afford to lose. Cold realism is the best antidote.
  11. Wall Street Journal - Front Page

    Indeed. The internet is such a great analogy for Bitcoin in so many ways. There was a lot of utopianism about the internet in the early days. Does anyone else remember the phrase "global village"? I think it was being thrown around a lot in the mid 1990s. And in many ways the utopian dreams did come true: the world was brought together as never before, people formed personal and business relationships across international borders at huge rates, we got a machine that can answer nearly any question you might have .... all kinds of amazing and wonderful things happened. But it didn't change government or the structure of society very much. Big corporations got bigger. Dictatorships remained dictatorships. People with more idealism than technical sense said things like, "the internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it", except then China went and proved them wrong. It would have been more accurate to say, "censoring the internet is possible but only at huge cost", but that doesn't get people excited in quite the same way. If we can make Bitcoin successful, I imagine it will be the same way. It could make all kinds of things better in all kinds of ways. But governments will still tax, the Argentinian economy will still be a basket case, and undoubtably some companies that are just tiny startups today will be the Googles and Facebooks of tomorrow, leaving us wondering why our nice decentralised system somehow ended up being so heavily dependent on a handful of easily pressured and manipulated corporations.
  12. Handling extortion risk

    National mints don't worry about that for the same reason people with money in banks don't worry about it: to try and extort cash out of someone, you have to go pick it up at a pre-arranged time and place. This was covered in the original post.
  13. Notes from FATF’s Private Sector Consultation

    Thanks Jim. That sounds like a productive meeting and fully agree with all points. What's happening with the UK and Somalia is quite shocking, and yet the inevitable outcome of some of the AML abuses committed by governments and the US Treasury in particular.
  14. Satoshi Nakamoto Institute releases "The Complete Satoshi"

    Yes you can use my Medium posts if you want.
  15. Satoshi Nakamoto Institute releases "The Complete Satoshi"

    I think you need to be very careful implying or asserting that Satoshi was a crypto-anarchist or even libertarian. He wrote remarkably little about politics despite the obvious platform he had, and indeed left shortly after people started talking about getting Wikileaks to accept Bitcoin. To the extent that Satoshi had politics, it seemed to be about central banks and macroeconomics rather than libertarianism.