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On Bitcoin

There’s an absolutely fascinating interview with Adam Back: “Let’s Talk Bitcoin Adam Back interview.”

For those of you who don’t know Adam, he created Hashcash, which is at the core of Bitcoin proof of work.

Two elements I’d like to call attention to in particular are:
First, there’s an interesting contrast between Adam’s opinions and Glenn Flieshman’s opinions in “On the Matter of Why Bitcoin Matters.” In particular, Glenn seems to think that transaction dispute should be in the protocol, and Adam thinks it should be layered on in some way. (Near as I can tell, Glenn is a very smart journalist, but he’s not a protocol designer.)

Secondly, Adam discusses the ways in which a really smart fellow, deeply steeped in the underlying technologies, can fail to see how all the elements of Bitcoin happened to combine into a real ecash system. Like Adam, I was focused on properties other systems have and Bitcoin does not, and so was unexcited by it. There’s an interesting lesson in humility there for me.

This is also interesting “How the Bitcoin protocol works.”

One comment on "On Bitcoin"

  • The issue of dispute resolution seems quite topical. I’ve just published a paper at Financial Cryptography dealing with how to better build dispute resolution into the Chip and PIN system. The paper also has some discussion of Bitcoin.

    The paper describes some principles, but doesn’t directly address the question of whether dispute resolution should be in the protocol or layered on top. If anything, the paper argues that the dispute resolution system should be separate from the protocol (principle 4) so that a break of the protocol does not necessarily entail a break of the dispute resolution system.

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