Blockchains: Empowering Individuals or Corporations?

TWO MAIN TYPES Not all blockchains are created equal. Some empower individuals, others profit corporations. This article takes a look at who benefits and why. Of course, the world isn’t neatly divided into two categories: people and corporations. Companies are composed of individuals after all. However, the interests of people, in contrast to corporate motivations, may be a useful framework for understanding two primary types of blockchains: “public” and “private”—or perhaps, “public” and “corporate”, is a more apt depiction. Let’s first cover some basic terminology to better make sense of blockchains and how they are used in real-world applications. BLOCKCHAIN JARGON A blockchain is simply a special type of database—one that is usually replicated and distributed amongst numerous interested parties.

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Code != Law

by Dr Bryant Joseph GILOT Code is Cruel generated criticism and discussion which I read with great interest. Ethereum: What’s the fuss? shows my enthusiasm for the Ethereum Project. Below, I continue the conversation. The Current Situation The DAO was hacked on 17 June 2016.  The Ethereum Community voted for the soft fork proposed by the Ethereum Foundation only to abort it due to a denial of service vulnerability.  A hard fork is now widely viewed as the best approach to recover the ‘stolen’ funds.  The DarkDAO is subject to a 27 day holding period under the terms of the DAO Ethereum contract.  This will prevent the DarkDAO from being drained until 27 days after 17 June 2016.  I have not confirmed the exact moment

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DAO Dilemma: Hard Fork or No Fork

Why I changed my mind and now endorse a hard fork Introduction This post is inspired by a live discussion led by Andreas Antonopoulos on June 29, covering the most recent developments in TheDAO and Ethereum. This excellent discussion can be viewed in its entirety here. The opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the panelists or other researchers at CryptoIQ. In the spirit of full- disclosure, I own both DAO tokens and ether. Nothing here should be construed as investment advice. A Costly Experiment Shortly after TheDAO hack came to light, and it became evident there is an unintended flaw in the code, allowing an unscrupulous party to enrich itself at

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Code is Cruel

by Dr Bryant Joseph GILOT – 19 June 2016 Recent events at the Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) are unfortunate. Despite the gravity of the consequences; we, the cryptocurrency community, must be certain to proceed in a very thoughtful, prudent and deliberate manner. A reactive and emotional response will have a long lasting impact on the entire cryptocurrency community, including Bitcoin. I wish to offer my condolences to all those who have been negatively impacted. What has happened has been perpetrated by a cruel individual or individuals, is unfair, and is not consistent with the true spirit of the DAO smart contract code. A vulnerability of the DAO contract code has been exploited causing the DAO, its courageous participants and the

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Coding for Better Regulatory Outcomes in The Internet Age of Bitcoin and Blockchains

Background From globally diverse legal perspectives, the current regulations affecting Bitcoin and blockchains are quite disparate, ranging on the spectrum from laissez-faire to outright prohibition, enforced with severe criminal penalties. The conundrum, however, lies with the fact that Bitcoin and blockchains are really an extension of the ever more ubiquitous Internet, albeit a radical extension, permitting digital value to be transmitted peer-to-peer, and diminishing the need for third-party intermediaries, who too often exploit their power and privilege. Given that access to the Internet is proclaimed as a fundamental human right by the UN [1], and that non-profit initiatives from high-profile tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are on a mission to bring the Internet to all corners of

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Ethereum and Democratizing Innovation

Introduction Ethereum is a groundbreaking software innovation designed as a developer-friendly platform for the creation of DApps, aka, decentralized applications. Ethereum draws inspiration from the success and staying power of earlier decentralized Internet technologies such as BitTorrent for file sharing and Bitcoin for cryptocurrency. The ultimate vision of Ethereum is to decentralize the Internet. Why decentralization? With a decentralized architecture, DApps built on the Ethereum platform will be impervious to censorship and thereby allow developers to freely create useful applications without concern of being shut down.  Although built from scratch and unique in implementation, Ethereum uses some innovations from Bitcoin’s architecture, including a decentralized consensus mechanism to unbundle trust, a distributed blockchain ledger to record contracts, and its own crypto-token,

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Sidechains: Alpha Sidechain Tutorial

In this tutorial we will take a practical look at sidechains [1]. We will concentrate on the Elements project [2] and its first sidechain known as Alpha . Alpha is a developer sidechain that is pegged to Bitcoin’s testnet [3]. In order to play around with sidechains in general and with Alpha in particular we need to have the mainchain installed on our machine. The mainchain in our case is the bitcoin testnet. Then we will need to install the Alpha sidechain. Let’s proceed. The instructions below are for Linux Ubuntu. Step 1 – Install bitcoind & alphad First we need to get some dependencies:

If you do not have git installed on your machine:

To be organized

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Smart Contracts and Insurance on the Blockchain

Introduction Smart contracts are a new and exciting area in computing science. Their application in finance, gambling, e-commerce, and automation of various tasks that are currently performed semi-manually is very promising. Smart contract are computer scripts (software) that aid in the self-execution and self-enforcement of traditional contracts. For the first time in history money or more precisely digital tokens, like bitcoin, are native to these software contracts, opening up wide areas of possibilities. Having money as a native type available to a computer program is a big deal. It allows the removal of the whole complicated layer of payment processing that current websites, apps, and other software systems have to deal with. One area that might benefit immensely from smart

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Blocksize: A Matter of Logistics

Discussions regarding the block size are often burdened by complex technical and engineering details, but fail to emphasize the key driver of Bitcoin’s future success. The critical driver of Bitcoin’s future success is its continued utility. If Bitcoin should for any reason become useless, it will become irrelevant! If it were to become inaccessible, or if it were to perform poorly in its main functions (1) assuring the security of the cryptographically scarce counterfeit resistant digital token bitcoin or (2) fail to securely facilitate the movement of these tokens from one address to another in an efficient, reliable, predictable and affordable manner – Bitcoin & bitcoin would become irrelevant. The original maximum allowable block size was 32MB1. In the early

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Ethereum: What’s the fuss?

The inspiration for Bitcoin has largely emerged from discussion and work based in the cypherpunk movement beginning in the 1970s into the 1990s and continuing into today[1],[2],[3].  The thought of digital currency entered into the collective consciousness via Neal Stephenson fictional work Cyrptonomicon[4] published in 1999.  However in 1982, David Chaum published[5] an article formally introducing secure digital cash.  Chaum went on to form DigiCash[6] in 1990 applying his ideas about digital currency. Bitcoin evolved beyond this original work by removing the need for a trusted third party.  This was achieved with the innovation of a peer-to-peer, consensus based public ledger (blockchain) cryptographically secured by digital signatures[7] and proof of work[8],[9],[10],[11] which eliminated the need for a trusted third party[12].  The token, bitcoin, is tracked

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Fun Facts About Factom

Introduction Innovation is a theme that runs throughout this post. New use cases for Bitcoin* and its underlying blockchain are being actively pursued by hundreds of startups around the world. The market cap of Bitcoin currently exceeds six billion dollars, greater than the total of all altcoins combined [1]. Angel investors, venture capitalists, crowdfunding platforms, big banks, and established tech companies are pouring millions of dollars every month into blockchain research and alternative applications [2]. Note, however, that innovation is not limited to the technology itself. The entire digital currency space is spawning all kinds of creative ways to interact with, and potentially profit from, this “emerging” market sector. Many of the blockchain startups are deploying novel business models, and

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Bitcoin Block Size Debate – Two sides to each coin.

by Albert Szmigielski As Bitcoin, the secure network and bitcoin, the currency gain in popularity, the number of transactions per time frame, and therefore per block increases. There is a limit to the number of transactions that can be included in a block. As the number of transactions is trending upwards, we are approaching the 1MB per block limit. A natural reaction would be to shrug and say: “so what, just raise the limit, problem solved”. However raising the limit has consequences on the economics of the network. Conversely, not changing the limit presents a different set of consequences. What follows is a summary and a review of arguments for and against the block size increase. Those in favour. The

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