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The Wisdom of Crowds: not as easy as you think

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I’ve been speaking against the idea of “Wisdom of the Crowd” in many tweets, but it might be good to explain why this is. As usual, it starts with bad definitions of a good concept. For starters, the concept is not “Wisdom of THE Crowd”, but the book title by James Surowiecki is “The Wisdom of Crowds“. That is a big distinction, as the former implies that...

Thoughts on “A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto”, part 6

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We cannot expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant us privacy out of their beneficence. It is to their advantage to speak of us, and we should expect that they will speak. To try to prevent their speech is to fight against the realities of information. Information does not just want to be free, it longs to be free. Information expands to fill the available...

Finally! Competition for Smart Contracts.

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I have always been opposed to seeing Ethereum being pitched as a competitor to Bitcoin. Not because I am a Bitcoin maximalist, but because the two are so fundamentally different in scope no comparison is possible. Ethereum is not aiming to change world finance, it is offering a platform for applications. Moreover, Ethereum as a project has much more in common with a company offering a product...

Thoughts on “A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto”, part 5

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Privacy in an open society also requires cryptography. If I say something, I want it heard only by those for whom I intend it. If the content of my speech is available to the world, I have no privacy. To encrypt is to indicate the desire for privacy, and to encrypt with weak cryptography is to indicate not too much desire for privacy. Furthermore, to reveal one’s identity with assurance when the...

VIDEO: Blockchain Statements – Tweakers Meetup 2018.

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I made this presentation for the Tweakers meetup in 2018. Tweakers.net is one of the largest and most influential tech sites of the Netherlands.
I was very honored to be asked to provide some insight to this audience. Instead of giving them a bland “this is blockchain” talk, I opted for a different format, presenting statements meant to elicit thought and response.

Thoughts on “A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto”, part 4

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Therefore, privacy in an open society requires anonymous transaction systems. Until now, cash has been the primary such system. An anonymous transaction system is not a secret transaction system. An anonymous system empowers individuals to reveal their identity when desired and only when desired; this is the essence of privacy. This is a fairly straightforward argument, but an important one...

Twitter Threads: on Open Source

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“Open Source” means nothing if there is no one that audits your code. It tends to become a smokescreen that signals “Nothing wrong here! Open Source, you know!” It’s like saying a huge warehouse full of clocks is “safe” because everyone can check them all. If there’s one in the centre with a bomb attached, there is no way to find it until it’s...

Twitter Threads: on Voting and Blockchain

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The “voting” issue on the blockchain is a, like almost any discussion in this industry, a mess. Lack of definition, lack of historical perspective and an almost wilful lack of knowledge of the theory and ideas behind voting in the first place. I am not an expert at all, but to at least make a distinction between voting as a means to elect public representatives (ie. being able to vote...

Twitter Threads: Private and Public Blockchains

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I feel this short thread is missing the point somewhat, and also engaging in some slight of hand with definitions. Public and private ledgers are a useful access model distinction that's not going anywhere. What should disappear is the association of [public = decentralized = proletariat = good] and [private = centralized = big business = bad]. — Amber ☘️ (@AmberBaldet) June 4, 2018 The...

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