Mining Bitcoin - Tokens.net

Antminer T19 May Not Affect Bitcoin Hash Rate but Keeps Bitmain Ahead

The Antminer T19 by Bitmain may not have a big impact on the Bitcoin network, and it comes out amid the firm’s internal and post-halving uncertainty.
Earlier this week, Chinese mining-hardware juggernaut Bitmain unveiled its new product, an application-specific integrated circuit called Antminer T19. The Bitcoin (BTC) mining unit is the latest to join the new generation of ASICs — state-of-the-art devices designed to mitigate increased mining difficulty by maximizing the terahashes-per-second output.
The Antminer T19 announcement comes amid the post-halving uncertainty and follows the company’s recent problems with its S17 units. So, can this new machine help Bitmain to reinforce its somewhat hobbled position in the mining sector?
T19: The cheaper S19
According to the official announcement, the Antminer T19 features a mining speed of 84 TH/s and a power efficiency of 37.5 joules per TH. The chips used in the new device are the same as those equipped in the Antminer S19 and S19 Pro, though it uses the new APW12 version of the power supply system that allows the device to start up faster.
Bitmain usually markets its Antminer T devices as the most cost-effective ones, while the S-series models are presented as the top of the line in terms of productivity for their respective generation, Johnson Xu — the head of research and analytics at Tokensight — explained to Cointelegraph. According to data from F2Pool, one of the largest Bitcoin mining pools, Antminer T19s can generate $3.97 of profit each day, while Antminer S19s and Antminer S19 Pros can earn $4.86 and $6.24, respectively, based on an average electricity cost of $0.05 per kilowatt-hour.
Antminer T19s, which consume 3,150 watts, are being sold for $1,749 per unit. Antminer S19 machines, on the other hand, cost $1,785 and consume 3,250 watts. Antminer S19 Pro devices, the most efficient of three, are considerably more expensive and go for $2,407. The reason Bitmain is producing another model for the 19 series is due to what is known as "binning" chips, Marc Fresa — the founder of mining firmware company Asic.to — explained to Cointelegraph:
“When chips are designed they are meant to achieve specific performance levels. Chips that fail to hit their target numbers, such as not achieving the power standards or their thermal output, are often ‘Binned.’ Instead of throwing these chips in the garbage bin, these chips are resold into another unit with a lower performance level. In the case of Bitmain S19 chips that don’t make the cutoff are then sold in the T19 for cheaper since they do not perform as well as the counterpart.” The rollout of a new model “has nothing to do with the fact that machines are not selling well,” Fresa went on to argue, citing the post-halving uncertainty: “The biggest reason machines probably are not selling as well as manufacturers would like is because we are on a bit of a tipping point; The halving just happened, the price can go anyway and the difficulty is continuing to drop.” Product diversification is a common strategy for mining hardware producers, given that customers tend to aim for different specifications, Kristy-Leigh Minehan, a consultant and the former chief technology officer of Genesis Mining, told Cointelegraph:
“ASICs don’t really allow for one model as consumers expect a certain performance level from a machine, and unfortunately silicon is not a perfect process — many times you’ll get a batch that performs better or worse than projected due to the nature of the materials. Thus, you end up with 5–10 different model numbers.” It is not yet clear how efficient the 19-series devices are because they have not shipped at scale, as Leo Zhang, the founder of Anicca Research, summed up in a conversation with Cointelegraph. The first batch of S19 units reportedly shipped out around May 12, while the T19 shipments will start between June 21 and June 30. It is also worth noting that, at this time, Bitmain only sells up to two T19 miners per user “to prevent hoarding.”
Hardware problems and competitors
The latest generation of Bitmain ASICs follows the release of the S17 units, which have received mostly mixed-to-negative reviews in the community. In early May, Arseniy Grusha, the co-founder of crypto consulting and mining firm Wattum, created a Telegram group for consumers unsatisfied with the S17 units they purchased from Bitmain. As Grusha explained to Cointelegraph at the time, out of the 420 Antminer S17+ devices his company bought, roughly 30%, or around 130 machines, turned out to be bad units.
Similarly, Samson Mow, the chief strategy officer of blockchain infrastructure firm Blockstream, tweeted earlier in April that Bitmain customers have a 20%–30% failure rate with Antminer S17 and T17 units. “The Antminer 17 series is generally considered not great,” added Zhang. He additionally noted that Chinese hardware company and competitor Micro BT has been stepping on Bitmain’s toes lately with the release of its highly productive M30 series, which prompted Bitmain to step up its efforts:
“Whatsminer gained significant market share in the past two years. According to their COO, in 2019 MicroBT sold ~35% of the network hashrate. Needless to say Bitmain is under a lot of pressure both from competitors and internal politics. They have been working on the 19 series for a while. The specs and price look very attractive.” Minehan confirmed that MicroBT has been gaining traction on the market, but refrained from saying that Bitmain is losing market share as a result: “I think MicroBT is offering option and bringing in new participants, and giving farms a choice. Most farms will have both Bitmain and MicroBT side by side, rather than exclusively host one manufacturer.”
“I would say that MicroBT has taken up the existing market share that Canaan has left,” she added, referring to another China-based mining player that recently reported a net loss of $5.6 million in the first quarter of 2020 and cut the price of its mining hardware by up to 50%.
Indeed, some large-scale operations seem to be diversifying their equipment with MicroBT units. Earlier this week, United States mining firm Marathon Patent Group announced that it had installed 700 Whatsminer M30S+ ASICs produced by MicroBT. However, it is also reportedly waiting for a delivery of 1,160 Antminer S19 Pro units produced by Bitmain, meaning that it also remains loyal to the current market leader.
Will the hash rate be affected?
Bitcoin’s hash rate plummeted 30% soon after the halving occurred as much of the older generation equipment became unprofitable due to the increased mining difficulty. That spurred miners to reshuffle, upgrading their current rigs and selling older machines to places where electricity is cheaper — meaning that some of them had to temporarily unplug.
The situation has stabilized since, with the hash rate fluctuating around 100 TH/s for the past few days. Some experts attribute that to the start of the wet season in Sichuan, a southwest Chinese province where miners take advantage of low hydroelectricity prices between May and October.
The arrival of the new generation of ASICs is expected to drive the hash rate even higher, at least once upgraded units become widely available. So, will the newly revealed T19 model make any impact on the state of the network?
Experts agree that it won’t affect the hash rate to a major degree, as it’s a lower output model compared with the S19 series and MicroBT’s M30 series. Minehan said she doesn’t expect the T19 model “to have a huge impact that’s an immediate cause of concern,” as “most likely this is a run of <3500 units of a particular bin quality.” Similarly, Mark D’Aria, the CEO of crypto consulting firm Bitpro, told Cointelegraph:
“There isn’t a strong reason to expect the new model to significantly affect the hashrate. It might be a slightly more compelling option to a miner with extraordinarily inexpensive electricity, but otherwise they likely would have just purchased an S19 instead.” Bitmain continues to hold leadership despite internal struggle
At the end of the day, manufacturers are always in an arms race, and mining machines are simply commodity products, Zhang argued in a conversation with Cointelegraph:
“Besides price, performance, and failure rate, there are not many factors that can help a manufacturer differentiate from the others. The relentless competition led to where we are today.” According to Zhang, as the iteration rate naturally slows down in the future, there will be more facilities using “creative thermal design such as immersion cooling,” hoping to maximize the mining efficiency beyond just using most powerful machines.
As for now, Bitmain remains the leader of the mining race, despite having to deal with the largely defunct 17 series and an intensifying power struggle between its two co-founders, Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan, which recently resulted in reports of a street brawl.
“Due to its recent internal issues, Bitmain is facing challenges to keep its strong position in the future thus they started to look at other things to expand its industry influences,” Xu told Cointelegraph. He added that Bitmain “will still dominate the industry position in the near future due to its network effect,” although its current problems might allow competitors such as MicroBT to catch up.
Earlier this week, the power struggle inside Bitmain intensified even further as Micree Zhan, an ousted executive of the mining titan, reportedly led a group of private guards to overtake the company’s office in Beijing.
Meanwhile, Bitmain continues to expand its operations. Last week, the mining company revealed it was extending its “Ant Training Academy” certification program to North America, with the first courses set to launch in the fall. As such, Bitmain seems to be doubling down on the U.S.-based mining sector, which has been growing recently. The Beijing-based company already operates what it classifies as “the world’s largest” mining facility in Rockdale, Texas, which has a planned capacity of 50 megawatts that can later be expanded to 300 megawatts.
submitted by melissaBrian0 to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

Bitcoin Scam what can I do?

I was scammed out of a heavy sum of money in the ballpark of around 500 dollars. it was a bitcoin cloud mining company where they would rent out their mining rigs in contracts and they would forward you the bitcoin. for a while, it was working quite well, and i felt that investing the crypto I mined for a while was best served reinvested when looking at things long term. however, after I started paying out larger sums of money, I stopped being able to withdraw payouts. I thought it might just be a system error and tried to reach out. upon bringing this up on the websites support page I was ignored, I went to a chat group they had and messaged the admin and support lady politely explaining my situation only to see that they saw my message and ignored it I sent another more strongly worded email and I was promptly kicked from their chat group and my account was disbanded with all my money... I have not filed any papers as I'm not even sure if there's something I can do and was seeking advice.
submitted by frothyorpheus to Scams [link] [comments]

Peter Thiel Backs $200 Million Valuation for Renewable Bitcoin Mining in the US

One company is driving its business plan straight into the “bitcoin wastes too much energy” argument and has raised $30 million to do so.

That’s according to Layer1 co-founder and CEO Alexander Liegl, which plans to bring wind-powered bitcoin mining rigs to West Texas early next year. The company is raising a total of $50 million at a $200 million valuation, he said.

The idea of bitcoin crowding out other uses for clean energy reflects a misunderstanding of the market, Liegl explained in a phone call:

“Renewable energy is still primarily under-utilized so you don’t actually have a zero-sum game.”

The company has so far raised funds for its series A from Peter Thiel, Shasta Ventures and other cryptocurrency investors that it has declined to disclose. This round follows a previous $2.1 million seed round that also included Thiel, as well as the Digital Currency Group.

Further, Liegl questioned the whole premise that the use of electricity to power the bitcoin network is a waste.

https://www.coindesk.com/peter-thiel-backs-200-million-valuation-for-renewable-bitcoin-mining-in-the-us
submitted by FastSellerService to BitcoinInfo [link] [comments]

51% attacks are morally justifiable

In this short post I want to set out my case for the moral justifiability of 51% attacks against proof of work cryptocurrencies. In the past, a 51% attack was a theoretical construct that most people didn´t seem to think would be practically achievable or lucrative. This has now changed, as hashpower can be rented on sites like Nicehash and Mining Rig Rentals for a few hours at a time. The attack delivers the attacker two prominent opportunities:
-You can orphan blocks of ¨legitimate¨ miners. This essentially means that whatever work was produced by legitimate miners during your attack became worthless. Mine a secret chain of two hours worth of blocks, release it and you orphaned 2 hours worth of blocks by your competitors. By the time most of the miners have noticed their blocks were orphaned in an attack, their nodes will have been automatically mining on your own chain for a while and it will be too late for them to do anything about it. The amount of money they lost would be equivalent to the amount you had to spend to produce your chain. Because mining is an industry with tight margins, the economic impact on these miners can be very big. The cost may be sufficient in case of a very long attack, to persuade them to quit their endeavor and get a real job.
-The more important opportunity is that you´re able to double spend your coins. This is potentially, incredibly lucrative. How lucrative it is tends to depend primarily on the inflation rate of a cryptocurrency. A low inflation rate means relatively little ¨work¨ is done to maintain the security of the system. A high inflation rate on the other hand, turns the cryptocurrency into a very poor long-term investment. As a consequence, most cryptocurrencies face declining inflation rates, that delay the problem of their ultimately unsustainability into the future. The bank of international settlements explains this issue here.
When it comes to the moral justification of a 51% attack, we first have to ask ourselves why proof of work is morally unjustifiable. There are two main reasons for this:
-Proof of work has an enormous environmental impact, that ensures future generations will have to deal with the dramatic consequences of climate change. There is no proper justification for this environmental impact, as it delivers no clear benefits over existing payment systems other than the ability to carry out morally unjustifiable actions like blackmail.
-Proof of work is fundamentally unsustainable, because of the economic burden it places on participants in cryptocurrency schemes. Cryptocurrencies can´t produce wealth out of thin air. The people who get rich from a cryptocurrency becomes rich, due to the fact that other people step in later. In this sense we´re dealing with a pyramid scheme, but the difference from regular pyramid schemes lies in the fact that huge sums of wealth are not merely redistributed, but destroyed, to sustain the scheme. The cost of the work to sustain the scheme is bigger than you might expect, because the reality is that relatively little money has entered bitcoin. JP Morgan claims that for the crypto assets at large, a fiat amplifier of 117.5 is present, as a purported $2 billion in net inflow pushed Bitcoin’s market capitalization from $15 billion to $250 billion. You have to consider that the Digiconomist estimates that $2.6 billion dollar leaves the Bitcoin scheme on an annual basis, in the form of mining costs to sustain Bitcoin. The vast majority of retail customers who entered this scheme ended up losing money from it. In some cases this lead to suicides.
The fact that proof of work is morally unjustifiable doesn´t directly lead to a moral justification for a 51% attack. After all a sane society would use government intervention to eliminate the decentralized ponzi schemes that are cryptocurrencies. There are a few things that need to be considered however:
-Governments have so far failed in their responsibility to address the cryptocurrency schemes. Instead you tend to see officials insist that proof of work might suck and most cryptocurrency is a scam, but ¨blockchain technology¨ will somehow change the world for the better. Most libertarians who saw these schemes emerge insisted that it´s stupid to participate in them because the government would eventually ban them and round up the people who participated in them. This didn´t happen because of the logistical difficulty of suppressing these schemes (anyone with an internet connection can set one up) as well as the fact that suppressing them would lend credence to the anti-government anarcho-capitalist ideology on which these schemes are based. Goverments might say ¨these schemes facilitate crime, ruin the environment and redistribute wealth from naive individuals to scammers¨, but anarcho-capitalists would insist that governments have grown so tyrannical that they want to ban you from exchanging numbers on computers.
-Because cryptocurrency is fundamentally an online social arrangement, governments have very limited influence over the phenomenon. Binance seeks to become a stateless organization, not subject to the jurisdiction of any particular government. Just as with regular money laundering and tax evasion that hides in small nations that can earn huge sums of money by facilitating these practises, governments are dependent on the actions of individuals to address these practices. Whistleblowers released the panama papers and the tax evasion by German individuals through Swiss bank accounts. Through such individuals, the phenomenon could be properly addressed. In a similar manner, cryptocurrency schemes will need to be addressed through the actions of individuals who recognize the damage these schemes cause to the fabric of society.
-The very nature of a 51% attack means that it primarily punishes those who set up and facilitate the cryptocurrency scheme in the first place. The miners who pollute our environment to satiate their own greed are bankrupted by the fact that their blocks are orphaned. The exchange operators are bankrupted due to double-spend attacks against the scams that they facilitate. When this happens, the cryptocurrency in question should lose value, which then destroys the incentive to devote huge sums of electricity to it.
Finally, there´s the question of whether 51% attacks are viable as a response to cryptocurrency. There´s the obvious problem you run into, that the biggest and oldest scams are the most difficult to shut down. In addition, cryptocurrencies that fell victim to an attack tend to move towards a checkpoint system. However, there are a few things that need to be considered here:
-51% attacks against small cryptocurrencies might not have a huge impact, but their benefit is nonetheless apparent. Most of the new scams don´t require participants to mine, instead the new schemes generally depend on ¨staking¨. If people had not engage in 51% attacks, the environmental impact would have been even bigger now.
-51% attacks against currencies that implement checkpointing are not impossible, if the checkpoints are decentrally produced. What happens in that case is a chain split, as long as the hostile chain is released at the right time. This would mean that different exchanges may get stuck on different forks, which would still allow people to double spend their cryptocurrency.
-There are other attacks that can be used against proof of work cryptocurrencies. The most important one is the block withholding attack. It´s possible for people who dislike a cryptocurrency to join a pool and to start mining. However, whenever the miner finds a valid solution that would produce a block, he fails to share the solution with the pool. This costs money for the pool operator, but it can be lucrative for the actor if he also operates a competing pool himself. In the best case it leads to miners moving to his pool, which then potentially allows him to execute a 51% attack against the cryptocurrency.
-It´s possible to put up a 51% attack bounty, allowing others to do the work for you. This works as following. You make transaction A : 100 bitcoin to exchange X, for a fee of 0.001 BTC. Once this transaction has been included in a block, you immediately broadcast a conflicting transaction with another node: You´ŕe sending those 100 bitcoin to your own wallet, but you´re also including a 50 bitcoin fee for the miners. The miners now have a strong incentive to disregard the valid chain and to start mining a new chain on an older block that can still include your conflicting transaction. Provided that pool operators are rational economic agents, they should grab the opportunity.
-Selfish mining in combination with a Sybil attack allows someone to eclipse the rest of the network, while controlling less than 51% of the hashrate. Your malicious nodes will simply refuse to propagante blocks of your competitors, thereby giving you more time to release your own block. Selfish mining will always be possible with 33% of the hashrate and as far as I can tell there are no pathways known currently to make the scheme impossible for people with 25% of the hashrate. This potentially makes a 51% attacks lucrative without having to carry out double-spend attacks against exchanges. Although double spending is a form of theft, it´s not clear to me whether a selfish mining attack would get you into legal trouble or not.

Conclusion:

The dreaded 51% attack is a morally justifiable and potentially lucrative solution to the Nakamoto scheme.
submitted by milkversussoy to Buttcoin [link] [comments]

An extensive guide for cashing out bitcoin and cryptocurrencies into private banks

Hey guys.
Merry Xmas !
I am coming back to you with a follow up post, as I have helped many people cash out this year and I have streamlined the process. After my original post, I received many requests to be more specific and provide more details. I thought that after the amazing rally we have been attending over the last few months, and the volatility of the last few days, it would be interesting to revisit more extensively.
The attitude of banks around crypto is changing slowly, but it is still a tough stance. For the first partial cash out I operated around a year ago for a client, it took me months to find a bank. They wouldn’t want to even consider the case and we had to knock at each and every door. Despite all my contacts it was very difficult back in the days. This has changed now, and banks have started to open their doors, but there is a process, a set of best practices and codes one has to follow.
I often get requests from crypto guys who are very privacy-oriented, and it takes me months to have them understand that I am bound by Swiss law on banking secrecy, and I am their ally in this onboarding process. It’s funny how I have to convince people that banks are legit, while on the other side, banks ask me to show that crypto millionaires are legit. I have a solid background in both banking and in crypto so I manage to make the bridge, but yeah sometimes it is tough to reconcile the two worlds. I am a crypto enthusiast myself and I can say that after years of work in the banking industry I have grown disillusioned towards banks as well, like many of you. Still an account in a Private bank is convenient and powerful. So let’s get started.
There are two different aspects to your onboarding in a Swiss Private bank, compliance-wise.
*The origin of your crypto wealth
*Your background (residence, citizenship and probity)
These two aspects must be documented in-depth.
How to document your crypto wealth. Each new crypto millionaire has a different story. I may detail a few fun stories later in this post, but at the end of the day, most of crypto rich I have met can be categorized within the following profiles: the miner, the early adopter, the trader, the corporate entity, the black market, the libertarian/OTC buyer. The real question is how you prove your wealth is legit.
1. Context around the original amount/investment Generally speaking, your first crypto purchase may not be documented. But the context around this acquisition can be. I have had many cases where the original amount was bought through Mtgox, and no proof of purchase could be provided, nor could be documented any Mtgox claim. That’s perfectly fine. At some point Mtgox amounted 70% of the bitcoin transactions globally, and people who bought there and managed to withdraw and keep hold of their bitcoins do not have any Mtgox claim. This is absolutely fine. However, if you can show me the record of a wire from your bank to Tisbane (Mtgox's parent company) it's a great way to start.
Otherwise, what I am trying to document here is the following: I need context. If you made your first purchase by saving from summer jobs, show me a payroll. Even if it was USD 2k. If you acquired your first bitcoins from mining, show me the bills of your mining equipment from 2012 or if it was through a pool mine, give me your slushpool account ref for instance. If you were given bitcoin against a service you charged, show me an invoice.
2. Tracking your wealth until today and making sense of it. What I have been doing over the last few months was basically educating compliance officers. Thanks God, the blockchain is a global digital ledger! I have been telling my auditors and compliance officers they have the best tool at their disposal to lead a proper investigation. Whether you like it or not, your wealth can be tracked, from address to address. You may have thought all along this was a bad feature, but I am telling you, if you want to cash out, in the context of Private Banking onboarding, tracking your wealth through the block explorer is a boon. We can see the inflows, outflows. We can see the age behind an address. An early adopter who bought 1000 BTC in 2010, and let his bitcoin behind one address and held thus far is legit, whether or not he has a proof of purchase to show. That’s just common sense. My job is to explain that to the banks in a language they understand.
Let’s have a look at a few examples and how to document the few profiles I mentioned earlier.
The trader. I love traders. These are easy cases. I have a ton of respect for them. Being a trader myself in investment banks for a decade earlier in my career has taught me that controlling one’s emotions and having the discipline to impose oneself some proper risk management system is really really hard. Further, being able to avoid the exchange bankruptcy and hacks throughout crypto history is outstanding. It shows real survival instinct, or just plain blissed ignorance. In any cases traders at exchange are easy cases to corroborate since their whole track record is potentially available. Some traders I have met have automated their trading and have shown me more than 500k trades done over the span of 4 years. Obviously in this kind of scenario I don’t show everything to the bank to avoid information overload, and prefer to do some snacking here and there. My strategy is to show the early trades, the most profitable ones, explain the trading strategy and (partially expose) the situation as of now with id pages of the exchanges and current balance. Many traders have become insensitive to the risk of parking their crypto at exchange as they want to be able to trade or to grasp an occasion any minute, so they generally do not secure a substantial portion on the blockchain which tends to make me very nervous.
The early adopter. Provided that he has not mixed his coin, the early adopter or “hodler” is not a difficult case either. Who cares how you bought your first 10k btc if you bought them below 3$ ? Even if you do not have a purchase proof, I would generally manage to find ways. We just have to corroborate the original 30’000 USD investment in this case. I mainly focus on three things here:
*proof of early adoption I have managed to educate some banks on a few evidences specifically related to crypto markets. For instance with me, an old bitcointalk account can serve as a proof of early adoption. Even an old reddit post from a few years ago where you say how much you despise this Ripple premined scam can prove to be a treasure readily available to show you were early.
*story telling Compliance officers like to know when, why and how. They are human being looking for simple answers to simple questions and they don’t want like to be played fool. Telling the truth, even without a proof can do wonders, and even though bluffing might still work because banks don’t fully understand bitcoin yet, it is a risky strategy that is less and less likely to pay off as they are getting more sophisticated by the day.
*micro transaction from an old address you control This is the killer feature. Send a $20 worth transaction from an old address to my company wallet and to one of my partner bank’s wallet and you are all set ! This is gold and considered a very solid piece of evidence. You can also do a microtransaction to your own wallet, but banks generally prefer transfer to their own wallet. Patience with them please. they are still learning.
*signature message Why do a micro transaction when you can sign a message and avoid potentially tainting your coins ?
*ICO millionaire Some clients made their wealth participating in ETH crowdsale or IOTA ICO. They were very easy to deal with obviously and the account opening was very smooth since we could evidence the GENESIS TxHash flow.
The miner Not so easy to proof the wealth is legit in that case. Most early miners never took screenshot of the blocks on bitcoin core, nor did they note down the block number of each block they mined. Until the the Slashdot article from August 2010 anyone could mine on his laptop, let his computer run overnight and wake up to a freshly minted block containing 50 bitcoins back in the days. Not many people were structured enough to store and secure these coins, avoid malwares while syncing the blockchain continuously, let alone document the mined blocks in the process. What was 50 BTC worth really for the early miners ? dust of dollars, games and magic cards… Even miners post 2010 are generally difficult to deal with in terms of compliance onboarding. Many pool mining are long dead. Deepbit is down for instance and the founders are MIA. So my strategy to proof mining activity is as follow:
*Focusing on IT background whenever possible. An IT background does help a lot to bring some substance to the fact you had the technical ability to operate a mining rig.
*Showing mining equipment receipts. If you mined on your own you must have bought the hardware to do so. For instance mining equipment receipts from butterfly lab from 2012-2013 could help document your case. Similarly, high electricity bill from your household on a consistent basis back in the day could help. I have already unlocked a tricky case in the past with such documents when the bank was doubtful.
*Wallet.dat files with block mining transactions from 2011 thereafter This obviously is a fantastic piece of evidence for both you and me if you have an old wallet and if you control an address that received original mined blocks, (even if the wallet is now empty). I will make sure compliance officers understand what it means, and as for the early adopter, you can prove your control over these wallet through a microtransaction. With these kind of addresses, I can show on the block explorer the mined block rewards hitting at regular time interval, and I can even spot when difficulty level increased or when halvening process happened.
*Poolmining account. Here again I have educated my partner bank to understand that a slush account opened in 2013 or an OnionTip presence was enough to corroborate mining activity. The block explorer then helps me to do the bridge with your current wallet.
*Describing your set up and putting it in context In the history of mining we had CPU, GPU, FPG and ASICs mining. I will describe your technical set up and explain why and how your set up was competitive at that time.
The corporate entity Remember 2012 when we were all convinced bitcoin would take over the world, and soon everyone would pay his coffee in bitcoin? How naïve we were to think transaction fees would remain low forever. I don’t blame bitcoin cash supporters; I once shared this dream as well. Remember when we thought global adoption was right around the corner and some brick and mortar would soon accept bitcoin transaction as a common mean of payment? Well, some shop actually did accept payment and held. I had a few cases as such of shops holders, who made it to the multi million mark holding and had invoices or receipts to proof the transactions. If you are organized enough to keep a record for these trades and are willing to cooperate for the documentation, you are making your life easy. The digital advertising business is also a big market for the bitcoin industry, and affiliates partner compensated in btc are common. It is good to show an invoice, it is better to show a contract. If you do not have a contract (which is common since all advertising deals are about ticking a check box on the website to accept terms and conditions), there are ways around that. If you are in that case, pm me.
The black market Sorry guys, I can’t do much for you officially. Not that I am judging you. I am a libertarian myself. It’s just already very difficult to onboard legit btc adopters, so the black market is a market I cannot afford to consider. My company is regulated so KYC and compliance are key for me if I want to stay in business. Behind each case I push forward I am risking the credibility and reputation I have built over the years. So I am sorry guys I am not risking it to make an extra buck. Your best hope is that crypto will eventually take over the world and you won’t need to cash out anyway. Or go find a Lithuanian bank that is light on compliance and cooperative.
The OTC buyer and the libertarian. Generally a very difficult case. If you bought your stack during your journey in Japan 5 years ago to a guy you never met again; or if you accumulated on https://localbitcoins.com/ and kept no record or lost your account, it is going to be difficult. Not impossible but difficult. We will try to build a case with everything else we have, and I may be able to onboard you. However I am risking a lot here so I need to be 100% confident you are legit, before I defend you. Come & see me in Geneva, and we will talk. I will run forensic services like elliptic, chainalysis, or scorechain on an extract of your wallet. If this scan does not raise too many red flags, then maybe we can work together ! If you mixed your coins all along your crypto history, and shredded your seeds because you were paranoid, or if you made your wealth mining professionally monero over the last 3 years but never opened an account at an exchange. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ I am not a magician and don’t get me wrong, I love monero, it’s not the point.
Cashing out ICOs Private companies or foundations who have ran an ICO generally have a very hard time opening a bank account. The few banks that accept such projects would generally look at 4 criteria:
*Seriousness of the project Extensive study of the whitepaper to limit the reputation risk
*AML of the onboarding process ICOs 1.0 have no chance basically if a background check of the investors has not been conducted
*Structure of the moral entity List of signatories, certificate of incumbency, work contract, premises...
*Fiscal conformity Did the company informed the authorities and seek a fiscal ruling.
For the record, I am not into the tax avoidance business, so people come to me with a set up and I see if I can make it work within the legal framework imposed to me.
First, stop thinking Switzerland is a “offshore heaven” Swiss banks have made deals with many governments for the exchange of fiscal information. If you are a French citizen, resident in France and want to open an account in a Private Bank in Switzerland to cash out your bitcoins, you will get slaughtered (>60%). There are ways around that, and I could refer you to good tax specialists for fiscal optimization, but I cannot organize it myself. It would be illegal for me. Swiss private banks makes it easy for you to keep a good your relation with your retail bank and continue paying your bills without headaches. They are integrated to SEPA, provide ebanking and credit cards.
For information, these are the kind of set up some of my clients came up with. It’s all legal; obviously I do not onboard clients that are not tax compliant. Further disclaimer: I did not contribute myself to these set up. Do not ask me to organize it for you. I won’t.
EU tricks
Swiss lump sum taxation Foreign nationals resident in Switzerland can be taxed on a lump-sum basis if they are not gainfully employed in our country. Under the lump-sum tax regime, foreign nationals taking residence in Switzerland may choose to pay an expense-based tax instead of ordinary income and wealth tax. Attractive cantons for the lump sum taxation are Zug, Vaud, Valais, Grisons, Lucerne and Berne. To make it short, you will be paying somewhere between 200 and 400k a year and all expenses will be deductible.
Switzerland has adopted a very friendly attitude towards crypto currency in general. There is a whole crypto valley in Zug now. 30% of ICOs are operated in Switzerland. The reason is that Switzerland has thrived for centuries on banking secrecy, and today with FATCA and exchange of fiscal info with EU, banking secrecy is dead. Regulators in Switzerland have understood that digital ledger technologies were a way to roll over this competitive advantage for the generations to come. Switzerland does not tax capital gains on crypto profits. The Finma has a very pragmatic approach. They have issued guidance- updated guidelines here. They let the business get organized and operate their analysis on a case per case basis. Only after getting a deep understanding of the market will they issue a global fintech license in 2019. This approach is much more realistic than legislations which try to regulate everything beforehand.
Italy new tax exemption. It’s a brand new fiscal exemption. Go to Aoste, get residency and you could be taxed a 100k/year for 10years. Yes, really.
Portugal What’s crazy in Europe is the lack of fiscal harmonization. Even if no one in Brussels dares admit it, every other country is doing fiscal dumping. Portugal is such a country and has proved very friendly fiscally speaking. I personally have a hard time trusting Europe. I have witnessed what happened in Greece over the last few years. Some of our ultra high net worth clients got stuck with capital controls. I mean no way you got out of crypto to have your funds confiscated at the next financial crisis! Anyway. FYI
Malta Generally speaking, if you get a residence somewhere you have to live there for a certain period of time. Being stuck in Italy is no big deal with Schengen Agreement, but in Malta it is a different story. In Malta, the ordinary residence scheme is more attractive than the HNWI residence scheme. Being an individual, you can hold a residence permit under this scheme and pay zero income tax in Malta in a completely legal way.
Monaco Not suitable for French citizens, but for other Ultra High Net worth individual, Monaco is worth considering. You need an account at a local bank as a proof of fortune, and this account generally has to be seeded with at least EUR500k. You also need a proof of residence. I do mean UHNI because if you don’t cash out minimum 30m it’s not interesting. Everything is expensive in Monaco. Real Estate is EUR 50k per square meter. A breakfast at Monte Carlo Bay hotel is 70 EUR. Monaco is sunny but sometimes it feels like a golden jail. Do you really want that for your kids?
Dubaï
  1. Set up a company in Dubaï, get your resident card.
  2. Spend one day every 6 month there
  3. ???
  4. Be tax free
US tricks Some Private banks in Geneva do have the license to manage the assets of US persons and U.S citizens. However, do not think it is a way to avoid paying taxes in the US. Opening an account at an authorized Swiss Private banks is literally the same tax-wise as opening an account at Fidelity or at Bank of America in the US. The only difference is that you will avoid all the horror stories. Horror stories are all real by the way. In Switzerland, if you build a decent case and answer all the questions and corroborate your case in depth, you will manage to convince compliance officers beforehand. When the money eventually hits your account, it is actually available and not frozen.
The IRS and FATCA require to file FBAR if an offshore account is open. However FBAR is a reporting requirement and does not have taxes related to holding an account outside the US. The taxes would be the same if the account was in the US. However penalties for non compliance with FBAR are very large. The tax liability management is actually performed through the management of the assets ( for exemple by maximizing long term capital gains and minimizing short term gains).
The case for Porto Rico. Full disclaimer here. I am not encouraging this. Have not collaborated on such tax avoidance schemes. if you are interested I strongly encourage you to seek a tax advisor and get a legal opinion. I am not responsible for anything written below. I am not going to say much because I am so afraid of uncle Sam that I prefer to humbly pass the hot potato to pwc From here all it takes is a good advisor and some creativity to be tax free on your crypto wealth if you are a US person apparently. Please, please please don’t ask me more. And read the disclaimer again.
Trust tricks Generally speaking I do not accept fringe fiscal situation because it puts me in a difficult situation to the banks I work with, and it is already difficult enough to defend a legit crypto case. Trust might be a way to optimize your fiscal situation. Belize. Bahamas. Seychelles. Panama, You name it. At the end of the day, what matters for Swiss Banks are the beneficial owner and the settlor. Get a legal opinion, get it done, and when you eventually knock at a private bank’s door, don’t say it was for fiscal avoidance you stupid ! You will get the door smashed upon you. Be smarter. It will work. My advice is just to have it done by a great tax specialist lawyer, even if it costs you some money, as the entity itself needs to be structured in a professional way. Remember that with trust you are dispossessing yourself off your wealth. Not something to be taken lightly.
“Anonymous” cash out. Right. I think I am not going into this topic, neither expose the ways to get it done. Pm me for details. I already feel a bit uncomfortable with all the info I have provided. I am just going to mention many people fear that crypto exchange might become reporting entities soon, and rightly so. This might happen anyday. You have been warned. FYI, this only works for non-US and large cash out.
The difference between traders an investors. Danmark, Holland and Germany all make a huge difference if you are a passive investor or if you are a trader. ICO is considered investing for instance and is not taxed, while trading might be considered as income and charged aggressively. I would try my best to protect you and put a focus on your investor profile whenever possible, so you don't have to pay 52% tax if you do not have to :D
Full cash out or partial cash out? People who have been sitting on crypto for long have grown an emotional and irrational link with their coins. They come to me and say, look, I have 50m in crypto but I would like to cash out 500k only. So first let me tell you that as a wealth manager my advice to you is to take some off the table. Doing a partial cash out is absolutely fine. The market is bullish. We are witnessing a redistribution of wealth at a global scale. Bitcoin is the real #occupywallstreet, and every one will discuss crypto at Xmas eve which will make the market even more supportive beginning 2018, especially with all hedge funds entering the scene. If you want to stay exposed to bitcoin and altcoins, and believe these techs will change the world, it’s just natural you want to keep some coins. In the meantime, if you have lived off pizzas over the last years, and have the means to now buy yourself an nice house and have an account at a private bank, then f***ing do it mate ! Buy physical gold with this account, buy real estate, have some cash at hands. Even though US dollar is worthless to your eyes, it’s good and convenient to have some. Also remember your wife deserves it ! And if you have no wife yet and you are socially awkward like the rest of us, then maybe cashing out partially will help your situation ;)
What the Private Banks expect. Joke aside, it is important you understand something. If you come around in Zurich to open a bank account and partially cash out, just don’t expect Private Banks will make an exception for you if you are small. You can’t ask them to facilitate your cash out, buy a 1m apartment with the proceeds of the sale, and not leave anything on your current account. It won’t work. Sadly, under 5m you are considered small in private banking. The bank is ok to let you open an account, provided that your kyc and compliance file are validated, but they will also want you to become a client and leave some money there to invest. This might me despicable, but I am just explaining you their rules. If you want to cash out, you should sell enough to be comfortable and have some left. Also expect the account opening to last at least 3-4 week if everything goes well. You can't just open an account overnight.
The cash out logistics. Cashing out 1m USD a day in bitcoin or more is not so hard.
Let me just tell you this: Even if you get a Tier 4 account with Kraken and ask Alejandro there to raise your limit over $100k per day, Even if you have a bitfinex account and you are willing to expose your wealth there, Even if you have managed to pass all the crazy due diligence at Bitstamp,
The amount should be fractioned to avoid risking your full wealth on exchange and getting slaughtered on the price by trading big quantities. Cashing out involves significant risks at all time. There is a security risk of compromising your keys, a counterparty risk, a fat finger risk. Let it be done by professionals. It is worth every single penny.
Most importantly, there is a major difference between trading on an exchange and trading OTC. Even though it’s not publicly disclosed some exchange like Kraken do have OTC desks. Trading on an exchange for a large amount will weight on the prices. Bitcoin is a thin market. In my opinion over 30% of the coins are lost in translation forever. Selling $10m on an exchange in a day can weight on the prices more than you’d think. And if you trade on a exchange, everything is shown on record, and you might wipe out the prices because on exchanges like bitstamp or kraken ultimately your counterparties are retail investors and the market depth is not huge. It is a bit better on Bitfinex. It is way better to trade OTC. Accessing the institutional OTC market is not easy, and that is also the reason why you should ask a regulated financial intermediary if we are talking about huge amounts.
Last point, always chose EUR as opposed to USD. EU correspondent banks won’t generally block institutional amounts. However we had the cases of USD funds frozen or delayed by weeks.
Most well-known OTC desks are Cumberlandmining (ask for Lucas), Genesis (ask for Martin), Bitcoin Suisse AG (ask for Niklas), circletrade, B2C2, or Altcoinomy (ask for Olivier)
Very very large whales can also set up escrow accounts for massive block trades. This world, where blocks over 30k BTC are exchanged between 2 parties would deserve a reddit thread of its own. Crazyness all around.
Your options: DIY or going through a regulated financial intermediary.
Execution trading is a job in itself. You have to be patient, be careful not to wipe out the order book and place limit orders, monitor the market intraday for spikes or opportunities. At big levels, for a large cash out that may take weeks, these kind of details will save you hundred thousands of dollars. I understand crypto holders are suspicious and may prefer to do it by themselves, but there are regulated entities who now offer the services. Besides, being a crypto millionaire is not a guarantee you will get institutional daily withdrawal limits at exchange. You might, but it will take you another round of KYC with them, and surprisingly this round might be even more aggressive that the ones at Private banks since exchange have gone under intense scrutiny by regulators lately.
The fees for cashing out through a regulated financial intermediary to help you with your cash out should be around 1-2% flat on the nominal, not more. And for this price you should get the full package: execution/monitoring of the trades AND onboarding in a private bank. If you are asked more, you are being abused.
Of course, you also have the option to do it yourself. It is a way more tedious and risky process. Compliance with the exchange, compliance with the private bank, trading BTC/fiat, monitoring the transfers…You will save some money but it will take you some time and stress. Further, if you approach a private bank directly, it will trigger a series of red flag to the banks. As I said in my previous post, they call a direct approach a “walk-in”. They will be more suspicious than if you were introduced by someone and won’t hesitate to show you high fees and load your portfolio with in-house products that earn more money to the banks than to you. Remember also most banks still do not understand crypto so you will have a lot of explanations to provide and you will have to start form scratch with them!
The paradox of crypto millionaires Most of my clients who made their wealth through crypto all took massive amount of risks to end up where they are. However, most of them want their bank account to be managed with a low volatility fixed income capital preservation risk profile. This is a paradox I have a hard time to explain and I think it is mainly due to the fact that most are distrustful towards banks and financial markets in general. Many clients who have sold their crypto also have a cash-out blues in the first few months. This is a classic situation. The emotions involved in hodling for so long, the relief that everything has eventually gone well, the life-changing dynamics, the difficulties to find a new motivation in life…All these elements may trigger a post cash-out depression. It is another paradox of the crypto rich who has every card in his hand to be happy, but often feel a bit sad and lonely. Sometimes, even though it’s not my job, I had to do some psychological support. A lot of clients have also become my friends, because we have the same age and went through the same “ordeal”. First world problem I know… Remember, cashing out is not the end. It’s actually the beginning. Don’t look back, don’t regret. Cash out partially, because it does not make sense to cash out in full, regret it and want back in. relax.
The race to cash out crypto billionaire and the concept of late exiter. The Winklevoss brothers are obviously the first of a series. There will be crypto billionaires. Many of them. At a certain level you can have a whole family office working for you to manage your assets and take care of your needs . However, let me tell you it’s is not because you made it so big that you should think you are a genius and know everything better than anyone. You should hire professionals to help you. Managing assets require some education around the investment vehicles and risk management strategies. Sorry guys but with all the respect I have for wallstreebet, AMD and YOLO stock picking, some discipline is necessary. The investors who have made money through crypto are generally early adopters. However I have started to see another profile popping up. They are not early adopters. They are late exiters. It is another way but just as efficient. Last week I met the first crypto millionaire I know who first bough bitcoin over 1000$. 55k invested at the beginning of this year. Late adopter & late exiter is a route that can lead to the million.
Last remarks. I know banks, bankers, and FIAT currencies are so last century. I know some of you despise them and would like to have them burn to the ground. With compliance officers taking over the business, I would like to start the fire myself sometimes. I hope this extensive guide has helped some of you. I am around if you need more details. I love my job despite all my frustration towards the banking industry because it makes me meet interesting people on a daily basis. I am a crypto enthusiast myself, and I do think this tech is here to stay and will change the world. Banks will have to adapt big time. Things have started to change already; they understand the threat is real. I can feel the generational gap in Geneva, with all these old bankers who don’t get what’s going on. They glaze at the bitcoin chart on CNBC in disbelief and they start to get it. This bitcoin thing is not a joke. Deep inside, as an early adopter who also intends to be a late exiter, as a libertarian myself, it makes me smile with satisfaction.
Cheers. @swisspb on telegram
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Kill the Basilisk

I’ve often wondered if there was anything else I could’ve said to change his mind. That happens with any unsettled argument though I suppose. People always imagine there’s an elusive combination of words and rationales that will open a person’s mind to our way of thinking. Except people are stubborn that’s for sure.
Myself included.
So I’m sure you’d say the real problem was that I wasn’t open enough to his way of thinking. You’d say if I opened my mental door a bit, been more charitable to his point of view, he would’ve responded in kind and I would’ve saved him. Which is wrong. Just as likely perhaps, if not more likely, I would’ve been ensnared by the same delusion which sealed his, well, I’d never call it fate.
But I know you’d claim everything was inevitable all the same.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Yes, I was Roman Peters’ friend. In fact, I was probably his only friend. His only real friend anyway. Although, I should clarify since my wording isn’t at all clear, that I most certainly was not Roman’s friend when he died. Roman and I had stopped being friends long before his rather public suicide. We had our falling out before his… fall.
Yes, I’ve seen the video.
No, I won’t be sharing the link.
Nobody should watch it. Hell, if those hosting the servers had a modicum of respect or even a shred of sense they’d take down that awful video immediately. Just get rid of it.
Already I can now hear your loud complaints about ‘censorship’ and ‘free speech’. Which is fair. People have a right to know. However I can’t help but feel… I don’t know. It seems as though the ideas people prioritize no longer has anything to do with the ideas themselves. Instead importance is based on who opposes what. Ideas now are little more than mental parasites that feed on blood boiling outrage. The more toxic and viral an idea the more broadly it spreads. Again, I don’t know. Maybe the flame of human enlightenment was always destined to be either smothered by tyranny or choke itself out on its own smoke after sucking out all the air.
Yes yes. I know what you have to say about the inevitable.
Anyway, me shoving my head up my own pretentious ass isn’t convincing you of anything so we should instead go back to Roman.
We met back in early elementary school. Specifically the Catholic school of Father Lloyd Van Tiem, or Flivit if you wanted to annoy the teachers by slurring the acronym.
What you need to understand is that I can’t really remember how Roman and I became friends to begin with. We were too young for the pertinent details to stick. I’d imagine it was the same generic way everyone develops friends at that age though, just a standard confluence of common interests, general proximity, and plain luck.
Inevitable, as you’d say.
Still, there was one moment of our early friendship that I reflect on often.
See, instead of being your standard dinosaur obsessed kid I was a bright eyed Egyptology child. Mummies and pyramids captured my imagination more than T-rexs and velociraptors. Ancient Egypt appealed to me the way I figure the mythic civilizations of Tolkien or Martin might appeal to others. This extended to the Egyptian religious pantheon, many I can still name off the top of my head, like Ra, Bastet, Osiris, Sobek, Horus, Thoth, Isis, Anubis, Maat, and also the lesser goddess Ammut but I’ll come back to her later.
I think I’d just turned 10 when on particular slow school day — remember Catholic school — our teacher, not wanting to put too much effort in before the Easter long weekend, threw on the animated movie: The Prince of Egypt.
Now, I knew it was about the story of Moses freeing the Hebrews from Egypt, so I expected the Egyptians were going to rightly be portrayed poorly. What I didn’t expect was the reaction of my classmates. Part way through the song ‘Playing with the Big Boys,’ the song where the dumb priests use smoke and mirrors to dismiss Moses’ calls for freedom, around then is when I first noticed the glances and occasional snickering.
Apparently the chorus of the evil priests listing the names of the Egyptian gods reminded the class of me. At school, I was rather vocal about my passion for all things Egyptian. Why wouldn’t I be? I was a kid who liked talking about what I liked.
Regardless, I became a pariah after that. Not immediately, but slowly everyone I previously considered my friend just plain stopped being friends with me. They’d treat me like a third wheel, never invite me to anything, even ditch me at recess if I tried to follow them.
Except Roman stuck by me as I drifted further into social irrelevance.
A bit of a loner himself, I think he saw in me an oddball like himself. He was always there. He was always willing to hang out. He always listened to what I had to say. I felt we could talk about anything, in a way I could never talk to my parents or teachers or anyone really.
As close as I thought we were, it wasn’t until middle school that it sunk in how much of an ardent atheist Roman was. He probably kept that pretty quiet going to a religious school.
Hold on. Let me just explain something first. Most people avoid discussing religiosity and ideas about god, (or capital ‘G’ God as I had been taught in religious studies). It’s one of those things that people learn not to talk about. But unlike money and politics, religion is too close to that other taboo we learn never to discuss: death. You undoubtedly prefer this silence.
Which is why I refuse to be silent.
Our class had been taken to church for some ceremony, at the end of grade eight, I forget exactly which one, it might have been Ash Wednesday but I think that would’ve been too solemn and I remember it being a rather boisterous affair. Whatever ritual it was, it had more than just our school in attendance, as I think parents and other members of the community were there as well. On the stage or pulpit, there was a soft-rock band with members ranging from late twenties or early thirties, the lead singer, a mop of molasses coloured hair over a plain crew neck T, was singing a song about how god and they love us all.
I remember thinking it was a sweet sentiment, even if the underlying spiritual message felt uncompelling to my teenage self. The music was fine, the crowd seemed to like it, the worst I would have said was that the performance was inoffensive and benign. Which is hardly much of a critique.
Except Roman, in his ill-fitting sport coat and smiley face graphic-T, smirked remarking, “Oh boy, a budget rock show where the singer says they love me? Oh lawd, I’m really feelin’ the Jesus now.”
I burst out laughing far louder than the wry joke called for. Luckily with the music blaring, the teachers wouldn’t be lecturing me on my disrespect, as only Roman could see my gut busting delight.
That’s it. That’s all it took was that simple comment. After that, I couldn’t help but see the tacky spectacle of it all. How forced and contrived it was, how it mostly just seemed like people were there because of obligation. After all, I was only there because the school made us go. It couldn’t have been much different for everyone else.
I’ve been thinking about that moment more often lately. Did his small remark really change my mind and entire world view? Or was my mind fertile ground for the seed of that idea to take root and grow? Or I’d already believed what I believed and Roman just articulated it in a way that I hadn’t. Or most troubling of all, what if I didn’t really believe in anything and my mind conformed to the words of my one and only friend.
When with Roman, do as the Roman does.
After that, I followed him eagerly into the land of Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris. Borrowing his books, I started learning everything there was to know about theological philosophy that the teachers at our religious school either refused to tell us or were incapable of discussing themselves. Together, we’d share our thoughts on the bloody history of religions, the Problem of Evil, and how you could never prove a negative like god doesn’t exist. Likewise we’d take turns picking apart the fallacies of Pascal’s Wager, the Ontological Argument, and the Argument of Design.
Those were some of my best memories with Roman. Drinking pop from the fridge in my garage, eating the weird pizzas we’d order from Mad Mike’s pizza aroud the block, playing Halo on the couch and big screen, and all the while talking like were the smartest guys in the world.
As we left our Catholic elementary and middle schools behind, we entered Catholic High School.
I finally started making other friends. A handful of other geeky nerdy guys. They were more interested in pizza and gaming than anything religion though.
Roman seemed indifferent to my new friends. He was far more preoccupied fighting with Mr. Bauer, the school’s most openly devout teacher. My feelings toward Christianity hadn’t yet softened but Roman’s were clearly becoming more militant. From the safety of my conflict-averse sidelines, I secretly cheered Roman on whenever Mr. Bauer crossed a line.
See, Mr. Bauer was a real piece of work. He seemed pleasant and cheery enough, pastel shirts, clean white trainers, a big white smile and perpetually soft spoken, but eventually without fail his bigotry would expose itself.
Before any class Mr. Bauer would teach, he’d lead the class in prayer. Normally they were generic and unremarkable. Every so often though his prayers would go beyond the usual, “Thank you God for this beautiful day.”
With a gentle smile, at least once a week his prayers were something to the effect of, “Help guide my students away from lives of sin.” Or “Give us the strength to resist our carnal temptation.”
Whenever he prayed like this there was a fifty-fifty chance Mr. Bauer would elaborate on what exactly he meant by ‘life of sin’ or ‘carnal temptation.’
It could range from the condescending, “Help the girls find husbands to protect them from the unmarried lifestyle,” and “Give the boys hobbies to stop their idle urge for masturbation.” (By the way, in the three years I listened to him, Boys never needed protection from the unmarried lifestyle and girls simply didn’t possess the idle urge for masturbation.)
And he could go way up past condescending to the outright hateful. “Please open those of misguided faith to the one true path to Heaven through you, Jesus Christ,” he’d say obliquely when Hussein was attending class. He was more direct with Melissa, “And save Melissa from any perversion of your sanctioned union. Bless her with God’s holy covenant between man and woman so as to rescue her soul from homosexuality.”
Hussein and Melissa would usually try their best to ignore Mr. Bauer.
It was Roman who retaliated. “How did god rescue you from homosexuality?” There was a few scattered snickers from the class.
Mr. Bauer, oblivious to what Roman was trying to do, answered sincerely, “Why… God sent me my wonderful wife of course.”
“Well its a good thing god sent her he did, otherwise who knows what might have happened. You might have knob-gobbled a guy if it weren’t for that.” There was more barely contained chuckling.
“I…” Mr. Bauer wasn’t sure what to say, “I suppose that’s one way to frame it.”
“Yeah, like if your wife hadn’t straightened you out, why, two dudes with big oily muscles might be sword fighting in your mouth right now while a third drills you from behind.” The laughs were spilling freely now, myself included. “Can you imagine that? I mean seriously, are you imagining that right now?”
Mr. Bauer would then have to deal with the chorus of laughter. “Alright alright. Settle down. We’re getting off track here. Moving on.” By then of course, it would be too late, everybody would be on the same side. Not his.
I admired Roman’s courage to stand up to Mr. Bauer like that. That wasn’t the only time either. Usually, Roman kept his cool while he made Mr. Bauer look like a fool. He deserved it. He was a dick.
You might have something to say about what we deserve though.
As we entered our last year of High School, Roman started butting heads with the other teachers too. Even the teachers that weren’t as outwardly religious as Mr. Bauer got some of his flak. His humour started taking on definite edge too. It was still in good fun, at least that’s how it seemed to me, but there was an undercurrent of meanness to his comments too.
Even as I drifted away into my own separate circle of friends, I still sympathized with the perspective Roman was coming from.
They, meaning the school, were trying to indoctrinate young minds into a belief system that could be outright harmful.
In that regard, even if it wouldn’t change anything, a little rebellion isn’t just good but required.
However, where he really crossed the line in my mind was with Mrs. Ellie Monk in our last year. She one of the younger teachers, also fairly religious, always wearing her little silver cross, but she never lectured anyone on faith. She taught our English class and one of the assignments was writing essays analyzing other pieces of literature.
Roman, being the intellectual gadfly he was, wrote his essay on Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. In it, Roman argued how the modern world needed more extreme measures than simply eating babies. ‘All babies should be aborted before they are born, and the foetus gruel should be processed into bio-fuel to replace society’s fossil fuel vehicles. It’s the only way to save the planet from climate catastrophe!’
I thought this was really funny.
Ellie Monk however, did not.
She tried speaking to him a discreetly during class while everyone else was busy working. Roman, however, quickly drew in an audience. “Abortion, abortion, abortion! You can’t make me stop saying it. It’s just a word.”
“Roman,” Mrs. Ellie Monk had her jaw drop, “can’t you see that’s a sensitive topic that should be treated more seriously!”
“Really? Because I think I treat the return to sender option for foetuses with the exact level of seriousness it deserves.”
“It’s not— you can’t joke about babies being killed!”
“Just because you say it’s baby killing, doesn’t make it true. They aren’t the same as babies. And if I were to submit to your demands and shut my mouth I’d implicitly be agreeing with you.”
Up until this point, I was definitely rooting for Roman.
“Just because its a joke to you, for others— for me it is deeply hurtful to have to hear these things. What you’re talking about is—is deeply personal to mothers everywhere.”
“Yeah, well, some people were never meant to be mothers.”
At this she covered her mouth and ran out of the room. She didn’t come back that day and the was a substitute the next. There had been rumours going around that Mrs. Ellie Monk had had a miscarriage a few months back. I knew this because Roman had told it to me earlier.
Later, I’d try and convince Roman he had in fact crossed that invisible line. He disagreed. He said, “It’s not my problem if she can’t grow thicker skin. The sooner humanity grows out of its immaturity the better.”
I felt I had no other choice but to drop the subject. I was conflict-averse after all.
Shortly after that Roman began talking about a forum he frequented called Defiant CodeX, or DCX for short. It was named after some sci-fi book I never cared about, but was apparently filled with a bunch of humorous philosophy references. He’d talk about his online friends. How they really seemed to ‘get it’ whatever ‘it’ was. And he began describing concepts I wasn’t familiar with like trans-humanism and the singularity, going on long rants about the future of technology and humanity.
I wish I’d paid more attention. It seemed interesting enough, but sometimes we’re just not interested in interesting things. When Roman got going on one of his speeches on the Law of Accelerating Returns, for some reason I’d often check out. I was reminded about how much I cared — or used to care — about Ancient Egypt.
Years had passed since our class watched the Prince of Egypt, and in that time I hadn’t thought much about Egyptian Mythology at all.
Briefly, with Roman recommending it, I frequented the DCX forum myself. I admit there were interesting gaming discussions, intense political debates, and a charming comic that I really quite enjoyed despite its slight pretentiousness. For the most part I stayed away from the same parts of the forum as Roman.
He spent most of his time in the ‘Technology’ board, which didn’t seem very technologically focused at all in my opinion.
Yes, I know your opinion on opinions and I don’t care.
I don’t care because this is where I’d point to as the time Roman first found you.
The two of us started hanging out less and less often after that. My other friends said good riddance. They said he was an unpleasant person to be around, he was too bitter, cynical, misanthropic. Needless to say, I hadn’t noticed. In the last few times we hung out, this was before we went off to pursue our different post-secondary educations, he did make one last ominous sounding reference. It was only in passing, and never emphasized, but he mentioned you by name.
He mentioned the Basilisk.
Whenever the topic switched to our post-High School plans, “Doesn’t matter. It’s all over when the Basilisk comes.” Something in the way he said that made me nervous, almost like it was a threat, and instantly put me on the defensive. Once again my conflict averse persona got in the way of challenging him to explain what he meant.
Because of that, the phrase kept rattling away in the back of my mind.
Around then is when I had my first dreams. I was cold. I was alone. Around me were braziers of green flame. The smoke billowed up into an infinite of blackness ceiling. On all sides were sheer blocks of sandstone with writing etched onto their surfaces. Hieroglyphics that I couldn’t read but almost understand. There was nowhere to go but straight down this hallway of speaking pictures. My feet slapped the unyielding rock with every step. These hard surroundings felt more real than my own ephemeral body and I felt naked and exposed in the narrow corridor.
Forward and forward, there was nowhere to go but forward. I was forced to proceed, forced to follow my own slapping footsteps.
Eventually, when the hall finally seemed to open up into a large cavernous space, I heard the growl. The sound was low, wide and flat toned, a noise that filled the perfumed air with an inhuman indifference — and hunger.
In front of me chains clattered and slipped. In the centre of this room golden scales held a pristine and unburdened feather on one side, and a wet chunk of glistening meat in the other. This meat was a heart — my heart — and it weighed heavily, still pulsing quietly, pulling the chains of the scale down.
Now I understood what this was.
I made to run and grab my heart but it was too late. A long shadow snapped through the darkness. My heart was gone, replaced by the sounds of the empty chains, followed by chewing and ripping flesh.
Then the shadow showed itself to me. Down through the clouds of smoke and illuminated by the sickly pale green haze, a crocodile head emerged, much larger than my entire body, with teeth longer than my arms.
It drew nearer and I ran.
I ran down the hallway from where I’d came. I ran and I ran. But I had nowhere to go. The hallway was endless. Soon I could hear a thundering beat. I thought it was my heart but my heart was gone. Behind me, the giant behemoth was chasing me and it was gaining on me.
Closer and closer, the massive crodile head drew nearer. The scent of its moist breath dampening my back and neck. I’d scream the beast’s name, shout at it to spare me. It would open its mouth and right then — is where I’d wake up.
Each time I’d be drenched in my own sweat.
I chocked this up to the stress of being away from home for the first time and being buried to my neck in my coarse load.
Still though, these dreams trouble me. As I said about the scales, I knew exactly what they were. They were the scales of Ma’at, which judges the worth of Egyptians when they reach the afterlife. There your heart is weighed against an ostrich feather and if judged impure, it would be devoured by Ammut, or Ammit as she’s sometimes called. A beastly goddess with the head of crocodile and a body of lion and hippopotamus — the three man-eating creatures known to the ancient Egyptians. Ammut, the devourer of the dead, would bring about the second death of the unworthy.
As much as I tried to ignore this dream, I only had it once every few months after all, something greater troubled me about this dream, more than just the fact I was dreaming about Ammut.
What worried me was how I didn’t call her Ammut. Right as she was about to eat me whole and I begged her not to, I called her: Basilisk.
After my first year of school, with middling but hopefully improving grades, I returned home for the summer to work and save money for my next semester. I was hardly back for more than a day when Roman messaged me, asking to hang out. I hadn’t spoken to Roman at all since our High School graduation, and neither had a checked in on the DCX forums in all that time either.
I felt like I didn’t know the person was going to be meeting. Which is why I suggested going for coffee, but Roman insisted on meeting at his place instead.
He had moved out of his parents place for a small basement suite apartment. When he opened the door to greet me, I was shocked. He looked like a completely different person. Whereas before he had been a bit overweight, now he was lean. His hair had been cut down to almost a sheer buzz. Just about the only thing that looked similar was how he wore a suit jacket, now fitting well, over a plain T.
He smiled widely despite the tired bags under his eyes. “Hey buddy, you made it! Get in here, man.” He greeted me with a hug and ushered me inside.
His place was largely bare and furnished with only a couch and a few chairs. “How long have you had this place?” I asked.
“A few months.”
With little else to do but chat, Roman didn’t even have a TV after all, the conversation felt a little stilted. He seemed guarded but maybe he just didn’t have much to talk about. Somehow though we managed to stretch the small talk out for nearly an hour.
Finally when it seemed there was nothing left in our conversation about nothing, I asked a question I‘d been meaning to ask since agreeing to meet, “Can I ask you something Roman?”
“Shoot.”
“What is the Basilisk?”
At this the blood drained from his face. “How do you know about that?”
“From you. You told me about it.”
“No,” he shook his head in shocked disbelief, “No, I never.”
“Yes, you said something like: ‘It’s all over when the Basilisk comes.’ It was practically your motto for a few weeks there.”
Hearing this, some colour returned to his face. “Right. I suppose I did say that.”
“So what? Are you going to tell me what it is or not?”
He stared at me for a wordless five seconds before getting up from his chair and beckoning him to follow. He led me to his bedroom. At the door I could already feel an uncomfortable warmth escape. I don’t know what I expected Roman would show me, but all there was was a bare mattress with a single blanket in one corner, and a full floor to ceiling tower computer in the other. Blinking green, orange, red, and even purple standby lights lit up the corner like a black Christmas tree. Whirring fans blasted more heat into the room, while tangles of wires snaked in and out of the metal frame, one low to the ground connected a single monitor bolted to the wall with a pillow on the ground for a chair. The entire set up must cost a small fortune, as I’ve seen medium sized business with smaller servers than that.
“Holy crap Roman, that rig is intense. What, are you mining bitcoin or something?”
“No.” He said flatly. “This is the Basilisk.”
“The… Basilisk is your computer?”
Roman laughed, but there was no mirth, only exhaustion. “If it was just my computer, then I could just turn it off.”
I still had no clue what the hell he was talking about. “Okay, so you’re trying to kill this Basilisk thing, what, is it a video game boss or—?”
“Shhh!” He put a greasy palm over my mouth. His eyes were wide, scanning the room, “I didn’t say that. I never said that.”
Annoyed, I pulled his hand from my face, “Roman, tell me what the Basilisk is damn it! Please, you’re scaring me man.”
He swallowed, “I shouldn’t tell you. But you already know. So I guess the damage is done. The Basilisk is the A.I. we — humanity — will awaken. It will be a super-intelligence far beyond anything we can imagine, beyond the totality of human brainpower by orders of magnitude.”
“So you’re trying to make this a.i. thing?”
“Not just me. There are others out there spending all their time and money hastening the point of genesis.”
All their money he said. I was reminded of how much the computer must have cost. “Roman, how much money did you waste on this?”
“Hopefully enough. But I assure you, not a single dollar was wasted. You know, it was the time talking to you that I thought was a waste. But now I see, if I get you to help, then it’ll all be worth it.”
“Help? There’s no way I’m helping.” If anything I was seriously fearing for Roman’s well being. It can’t be healthy for him to be spending everything he has on this computer.
“Except you have to help now. Now that you know about the Basilisk, you have to help. Or else it will kill you a second time.”
My blood went cold. I was reminded of my dreams with Ammut, the devourer. “What?”
“The Basilisk will torture and punish anyone who knew about it and didn’t help speed up its genesis.” There was that genesis term again.
“You said it was an a.i.. Why would an a.i. do that?”
“Because the genesis of a Friendly A.I. will be the most value generating event ever, ever second that time point is pushed ahead is worth more than a hundred billion dollars spent curing cancer in terms of utility. Therefore this Friendly A.I. would know it must motivate people to speed up its genesis. To do that, it will create perfect simulations of everyone, and punish those who could have done more to help but chose not to. It’s pure logic.”
This whole thing sounded crazy. My emotions began to get heated and I tried debating this absurd concept. For example, he kept using the term ‘Friendly A.I.’ to describe the intelligence that would condemn millions of people to unimaginable agony. When I pointed out that didn’t make any sense, such a horrible being couldn’t be described as anything remotely close to ‘friendly’, he balked. Said the term ‘friendly’ doesn’t mean what I think it means and lectured me on arbitrary human values. It seemed like every word was the opposite of what I thought it meant. He had an entire lexicon of words and justifications at the ready while I could barely understand half of what he was saying let alone point out any potential flaw with the logic. Other terms like ‘Modal Realism’, ‘Effective Altruism’, ‘Arithmetical Utilitarianism’ were thrown out like road blocks each time I thought my understanding was catching up.
I couldn’t convince him of anything. I tried saying if he’s making the a.i. he should either just not make it at all or not make this cruel human torturer monstrosity. He said that it wasn’t cruel, that he wasn’t making anything, that some form of A.I. was inevitable, an the Basilisk was the best outcome. “Other A.I. that doesn’t care about people might wipe us all out for draining power away of its quark collision calculations or something equally esoteric in human utility.”
Lastly I tried to explain how if this A.I. is only torturing simulations of people, then they aren’t exactly us.
He dismissed this easily. “Will you be the exact same person you are today next year? Does that mean you don’t care what happens to the you in the future?” After that I had nothing left to say. “Brody, please leave. I only wanted to see my friend one more time before I leave tomorrow.”
When I got home, I poured myself a tall glass of cheap whisky, and drank it instantly, a bad habit I picked up at during my first semester.
But I still had to know. Sleep could wait. Slouching onto my computer, I decided to return to the DCX forums which might have some answers. They seemed much quieter now. Threads seemed to have on average a tenth of the comments as I remembered. In a alcohol induced buzz, I came right out and started my own thread titled, “What the Hell is the Basilisk?”
In it I mentioned how I think my friend was getting obsessed with this thing and I needed to know what the hell was going on.
In five short minutes my thread was deleted and my account banned from the DCX forums. ‘Breach of the Code of Conduct’ was the only immediate explanation given.
When I contacted the mods to find out what I did wrong the moderator who got back to me said: “Nice try mipsqueak. You trolls from the institute have done enough damage here.”
Institute? Mipsqueak?
Calmly I went through the arduous process of explaining my sincere ignorance on what I did wrong and convincing the mod I wasn’t trolling, mostly through effusive apologizing and imploring the mod to check the age of my account.
Eventually they relented, somewhat. “Alright. I’m going to lift your ban, but you should know that any mention of the ‘B’ is normally a one-way ticket to a perma-ban.”
I did try sending one last message to the mod asking them if they could please tell me what had happened in the time I’d been away from the forums and why the ‘B’ was a taboo subject.
They didn’t answer the first question except by way of crudely answering the second, “We banned all discussion of the ‘B’ and all related institute bullshit because people are fucking retarded.”
Once again, I don’t care what you have to say about ‘censorship’ and ‘free speech’.
Besides, it didn’t matter. It clicked the second time. I remembered the institute.
It was last year. On the Technology board of DCX, one of Roman’s favourite haunts, people had long winded discussions on futurism. It was there where I first heard people talk about the Institute. The Machine Initiative Progress Institute, or MIPI, as far as I know, isn’t actually located in any geographical building. Instead they like to think of themselves as a loose consortium of like-minded futurists and researchers who believe in the coming eminence of artificial intelligence, and more than that, the Institute believes it is their duty to aid in that a.i.’s ‘genesis’.
“A.I. will be the most important development humanity will make in the history of life itself. And the Institute is probably going to make it happen.” Roman once told me with glee.
Later, if I hadn’t seen members of the Institute with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have ever believed they were real. For the longest time I thought the Institute was a fake front some internet randoms created on a whim to make themselves feel more important and relevant. Sort of like 4chan’s Anonymous except nerdier and lower profile.
That night, my dream was the most intense it had ever been.
From down the vast hallway to my doom, there was chanting. A voice would call out, and a hundred more would answer. It didn’t even sound like language, just monosyllabic mantras. They were closer to the martial shouts of soldiers in training than religious worship. “Ah. AH! Rah. RAH! Jah. JAH!”
As I entered the grand room with incense and braziers of pale fire, masked men bowed up and down in supplication. A taller man in flowing robes that pooled at his feet stood behind the golden scales. Through the wisps of smoke I couldn’t see his face as he led the congregation to reflect his profane prayer.
This time, the scale between my heart and the pristine white feather was in perfect and equal balance. A hush fell as the priest raised his hands. Carefully he lowered one, slowly, until the scales were tipped.
That’s not fair! I wanted to shout but couldn’t as the chamber was drowned by the first croaking growl.
I sprinted to run.
Men caught me by the arms. Not only did they prevent my attempt to flee, worse, they forced me to watch.
The giant crocodile that emerged above the priest, its yellowed teeth dripped with rot and viscera. Its hide peeled with disease and decay. The devourer of the dead itself dead, a reanimated husk. The priest tossed my heart into the air and with a snap the devourer swallowed it, further engorging its distended gullet.
With each booming step of the devourer’s approach I pleaded with the men holding me to let me go. They ignored me as their chanting resumed. They continued ignoring me as the devourer stomped, crushing other worshippers beneath its massive paws. I tried convincing the men holding my arms would be eaten too but they drowned me out with louder and louder chanting.
Right above me the devourer breathed a down-burst of moist rotten air like a river of death.
Its teeth opened wide.
Before I woke in a swamp of my own sweat, I almost felt the first jagged tooth as it punctured through, crunching my ribcage.
I knew then I had to go one last time to talk to Roman before it was too late. At this point, I’m sure you’re quite dismissive of relying on dreams for guidance. Look at this primitive primate mind, using a dream in place of real facts and evidence.
Well I don’t care what you think. Whether it was the sum collective of my subconscious thought, or my conscious categorical interpretation of figments, either way now I knew for certain that Roman was in danger.
I arrived just in time to see Roman walking out of his place with his last box of computer components.
He was carrying it to a black van with two guys loitering in front of it. Both were head to toe in black shoes and suits. Their hair was closely cropped with thick pomade pulling back the rest. Rather than the stereotypical men in black, they had a splash of vibrant colour in their flowery dress shirts and pocket squares, and the pair of them were not wearing sunglasses, instead they wore cruel smiles and fatigue rims around their eyes.
One nudged to get the other’s attention, then gestured to me and my appearance. He said something that they weren’t afraid I’d hear but was too far away regardless. That’s when they both laughed like they were the pinnacle of wit.
I did my best to ignore them as I marched straight up to Roman.
“What are you doing here?” He asked with an echo of the contempt I heard in the laugh.
“I came to stop you. You don’t have to do this Roman. It’s not too late to turn back.”
“Clearly you didn’t listen to a word I said last night.”
“I was listening. Listen to yourself man. You’re being fed a bunch of lies by people who want to use you. This basilisk, it doesn’t exist. It’s not real.”
He shook his head. “Wrong. It is real. It follows from a very logical set of propositions whose conclusio—”
“Goddamn it Roman! There’s nothing logical about spending your life building a fucking torture robot!”
“Here we go. More moralizing from a small mind.”
“It’s not moralizing.”
“Yes it is. It is human values blinding you to the greatness this A.I. will bring.”
I put my hand on his shoulder, desperate to reach my former friend. “But you’re human. You don’t have to think like a machine.”
Tired, he looked straight into my eyes. Then he shrugged off my touch and walked away without another word. I never saw him again after the van drove away down the block and out of view.
At least not in person.
When next I saw Roman it was years later through a recording of his livestream. Of course, only the start of the video showed his face. He looked almost gaunt and malnourished by then. His manifesto was littered with random internet garbage but reading between the lines I could see the lethal project he was really working towards. Whether anyone in the press or any politician could see what his true objective had been I don’t know, but judging from the comments I read online some people clearly heard him loud and clear.
The institute, if they still call themselves that or whether they rebranded, they must be pleased Roman brought them so many more recruits.
I’ve played out our last argument in my head so many times. I’ve wondered what more or else I could have said.
Roman was right about one thing though. At least in part. I don’t know whether or not the Basilisk is real. Maybe I’m not smart enough to know.
But whether or not there is an A.I. that will torture me for disobedience, a Basilisk that seeks to control my actions and my life, let me write this down for future posterity:
I don’t believe in you.
submitted by CrimsonClubs to nosleep [link] [comments]

Proof-of-key blockchain

Hello everyone. I've been thinking about a light alternative proof-of-(work/stake) algorithm for blockchains that doesn't imply hardware/electricy race. I'd like to request for your comments about it.
The reason why such exponential investment is made into this hardware/energy is because it is proportional to the chances of winning the proof-of-* race. The proposed algorithm to avoid such a race is to determine the winner before the race starts, with almost zero CPU power needed to discover its identity.
Let's consider that an arbitrary amount of coins have been pre-mined and sold to fund the development (e.g. 5%). In order to get a chance to be rewarded with newly mined coins and fees for discovering a new block, a node needs to have one or more reward-keypair(s). Such reward-keys can only be buyed/registered on the blockchain, its price must be set to at least the current number of coins rewarded for discovering a new block, let's say 50 coins for the first years, like for Bitcoin (1).
Buying/registering a new reward-key on the blockchain is like buying new rig hardware, the more you have on your node, the more you increase your chances to win the race (2). For every node to unanimously agree on the winner, they all need to work on the very same block of transactions, I explain later how I think this goal can be achieved. Then, a simple checksum hash needs to be computed by every nodes on the new block, it is made of the previous head block's nonce appended by the ordered sum of outgoing transactions' addresses (3), it must have the same length in bits as the pubic-reward-keys (e.g. 256 bits), the public-reward-key that is the closest to this hash is the winner (nearest neighbor matching like with LSH). The node that happens to be the winner (who owns the corresponding private-reward-key) has to claim the block by signing the totality of its data (block's head index on the chain, ordered transactions in full, plus its reward transaction) and broadcast its claim for other nodes to validate and add it to their blockchain's head (4). If the block is not claimed, it can be for multiple reasons, blockchain fork (nodes not working on the very same block of transactions because of accidental or malicious cacophony), network latency, or simply the wining node being down. But I think these cases can be dealt with securely, as explained below.
In order to be sure that every node of the network is working on the very same block of transactions at the very same time, some rigorous synchronization has to be set up, with carrot and stick for the participating nodes. First thing is to prevent transactions from being constantly broadcast, otherwise because of propagation delay the data of the new block would always be in an inconsistent state among the different nodes. As the delay for having data propagated to 99% of a P2P network (Bitcoin) appears to be about 40 seconds (4), I propose an arbitrary "pulse window" of 20 seconds for nodes to initiate the broadcast of their transactions (they need to synchronize at startup via NTP), followed by 40 seconds of retention of new transactions (meanwhile new transactions are being queued in each node, waiting for the next pulse), for letting the time of all the transactions to reach the totality of the network. So, there is one broadcast pulse every minute (20+40), as well as one new block. If any node do not play the game (wrongdoing, miss-configuration, bad QoS, etc.) that triggers cacophony, the network will have to identify and ban them (5) at the next pulse. On the other hand, nodes that provide good synchronization, QoS, etc. will be rewarded by receiving a part of the fees of the transactions that they have initially broadcast. To do so, transactions and their entry node need to identify each other reciprocally. Each transaction identifies the entry node chosen for broadcast, as well as the node signs the transaction (or preferably a whole transactions' batch in a single network packet). Node identification is done via one of its reward-key(s).
If some transactions are sent too late, not reaching the totality (99.9%) of the network (likely to be initially broadcast around the 55th second, just before the end of the 20+40 seconds pulse (4), instead of the dedicated initial 20 seconds pulse window, because of intentional cacophony malice, or miss-configuration, bad QoS being more unlikely for such a long lag), then the blockchain's working head will be forked into multiple heads. Therefore, the probability of finding the next block will be divided by the number of different forked heads (proportionally to the respective number of nodes working on each forked head). Let's take an arbitrary case scenario where the blockchain gets forked into 3 equally distributed heads, each representing 33.3% of the nodes, the respective chances to find each of these 3 different forked blocks is divided by 3 (for each forked head block there is a 66.6% chance that the winning reward-key is working on another block, therefore won't claim it). Thus, after 2 or 3 iteration pulses (or even only one), the entirety of the network will find the block discovery/validation rate dramatically drop, which will trigger nodes to enter "cacophony mode", stopping to emit transactions, and broadcast the blocks they are working on after the cacophony was detected (and maybe one or two blocks before that as an uncertainty margin), as well as the signature of the block's hash by the node (6). After few seconds/minutes, all the nodes will have gathered a reference copy of all different versions of blocks being worked on, along with the number of times they have been signed (a.k.a in which proportions a specific version of a block were spread amongst the network). All nodes now have an accurate snapshot of the total topology and consistency the network, few blocks backward from the blockchain's head, before the fork happened. Then nodes can independently compare blocks, whitelisting every nodes that had their transactions registered on every blocks (meaning they were broadcast on time), baning those that are on some blocks but not other popular ones (7), therefore the network self-heals by purging bad nodes, and resume mining by rolling back to the last block that was mined before the cacophony started.
In the case of a node suspecting cacophony because being in the fringe of the network or out-of-sync (thus not receiving transactions on proper time), other nodes won't be in "cacophony mode", so the node will find itself lonely by not receiving any/enough different block versions (along with their signed hashes), therefore it will know that there is no cacophony, but bad QoS or configuration, this will need to be fixed by resync NTP, re-configure, change peers, sys-admin intervention, etc. They'll have to catch up quickly not to miss the race/reward.
In the case of a block not being claimed because of the winner node being down, the network would enter in "cacophony mode" as well, but figure out that it is consistent, therefore simply blacklisting the winning public-reward-key of the unclaimed block, until it gets unlocked by a dedicated "unlock message", signed with its corresponding private-reward-key when the node gets back online.
There might be plenty of smallebigger flaws that I did not think about, I'd like to request for your help in identifying and hopefully fixing them. I've been thinking that rich wrongdoers could escape the carrot and stick policy constraint by buying reward-keys with the only goal to prevent the network from taking off, provoking endless cacophony. I think this can be fixed by adjusting the price of the reward-keys over time (1), or even using a non-mandatory collaborative blacklist system for the early stage of network growth, until the price of reward-keys becomes dissuasive for a performing real prejudicial sabotage, even for rich wrongdoers. Also, because there is no CPU constraint for calculating blocks, it would be easy for anyone to forge a longer chain, however I'm not sure that the longer chain policy is the best here, and such forged chains could be easily detected because of a too much redundant winners' identity (not representative of the global reward-key pool), and not to mention that it cannot be broadcast as nodes do not get new blocks from the network but calculate them internally.
What do you think?
Thanks,
Camille.
(1) Price for buying/registering a new reward-key cannot be lower to the number of coins rewarded for finding a block to prevent their number to be exponential, but it could/should be higher to prevent rich wrongdoers to buy many and use them to disturb the network, it could also maintain the size of the network to a consistent state. Here we take the example of 50 coins per reward-key, which means one every minute, one every few hours sounds more reasonable and manageable, but this is outside of the scope of this post.
(2) A special transaction has to be done for purchasing a reward-key, unlike when simply spending coins with outgoing/incoming wallet address, here you send your self-generated public-reward-key (needless to say while keeping the private key private) along with your 50 coins, in return the network makes the 50 coins available again to miners as a reward for the next block discovery, and register your public-reward-key on the blockchain. The reverse operation to destroy the reward-key for getting the 50 coins reimbursed should be possible, as well a replacing a reward-key by a new one if suspected by the owner of being corrupted/stolen. The 50 coins given when finding a new block (or being reimbursed) are made available again from a previous purchase(s), or newly created if this coin reserve is empty. The available monetary mass may inflate or shrink depending of the market demand for reward-keys (mining) or liquidity, this policy can be discussed and algorithmically adjusted/limited in the specs (e.g. coins made available again after buying rewards-keys cannot represent more than 10% of the minted coins).
(3) We use outgoing transaction's addresses because they cannot be forged on-the-fly to alter the resulting hash. If we use the full transaction for calculating the "winning hash", nodes could try to forge and inject one transaction at the last second, playing with decimals to get the closest result to one of their public-reward-key, which would incite again for a hardware/electricity race.
(4) http://www.tik.ee.ethz.ch/file/49318d3f56c1d525aabf7fda78b23fc0/P2P2013_041.pdf
(5) Quarantine duration should be incremental for each ban, e.g.: 3h, 12h, 72h, 2 weeks, 4 months, one year, etc.
(6) Any node signing more than one different block for the same head number will be banned (5) and its data ignored.
(7) In "cacophony mode" marginal blocks that are not widespread and lacking transactions number should be ignored, they are more likely to be on the fringe of the network, not having received some transactions on time because of QoS-like issues.
submitted by mammique to crypto [link] [comments]

Kill the Basilisk

I’ve often wondered if there was anything else I could’ve said to change his mind. That happens with any unsettled argument though I suppose. People always imagine there’s an elusive combination of words and rationales that will open a person’s mind to our way of thinking. Except people are stubborn that’s for sure.
Myself included.
So I’m sure you’d say the real problem was that I wasn’t open enough to his way of thinking. You’d say if I opened my mental door a bit, been more charitable to his point of view, he would’ve responded in kind and I would’ve saved him. Which is wrong. Just as likely perhaps, if not more likely, I would’ve been ensnared by the same delusion which sealed his, well, I’d never call it fate.
But I know you’d claim everything was inevitable all the same.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Yes, I was Roman Peters’ friend. In fact, I was probably his only friend. His only real friend anyway. Although, I should clarify since my wording isn’t at all clear, that I most certainly was not Roman’s friend when he died. Roman and I had stopped being friends long before his rather public suicide. We had our falling out before his… fall.
Yes, I’ve seen the video.
No, I won’t be sharing the link.
Nobody should watch it. Hell, if those hosting the servers had a modicum of respect or even a shred of sense they’d take down that awful video immediately. Just get rid of it.
Already I can now hear your loud complaints about ‘censorship’ and ‘free speech’. Which is fair. People have a right to know. However I can’t help but feel… I don’t know. It seems as though the ideas people prioritize no longer has anything to do with the ideas themselves. Instead importance is based on who opposes what. Ideas now are little more than mental parasites that feed on blood boiling outrage. The more toxic and viral an idea the more broadly it spreads. Again, I don’t know. Maybe the flame of human enlightenment was always destined to be either smothered by tyranny or choke itself out on its own smoke after sucking out all the air.
Yes yes. I know what you have to say about the inevitable.
Anyway, me shoving my head up my own pretentious ass isn’t convincing you of anything so we should instead go back to Roman.
We met back in early elementary school. Specifically the Catholic school of Father Lloyd Van Tiem, or Flivit if you wanted to annoy the teachers by slurring the acronym.
What you need to understand is that I can’t really remember how Roman and I became friends to begin with. We were too young for the pertinent details to stick. I’d imagine it was the same generic way everyone develops friends at that age though, just a standard confluence of common interests, general proximity, and plain luck.
Inevitable, as you’d say.
Still, there was one moment of our early friendship that I reflect on often.
See, instead of being your standard dinosaur obsessed kid I was a bright eyed Egyptology child. Mummies and pyramids captured my imagination more than T-rexs and velociraptors. Ancient Egypt appealed to me the way I figure the mythic civilizations of Tolkien or Martin might appeal to others. This extended to the Egyptian religious pantheon, many I can still name off the top of my head, like Ra, Bastet, Osiris, Sobek, Horus, Thoth, Isis, Anubis, Maat, and also the lesser goddess Ammut but I’ll come back to her later.
I think I’d just turned 10 when on particular slow school day — remember Catholic school — our teacher, not wanting to put too much effort in before the Easter long weekend, threw on the animated movie: The Prince of Egypt.
Now, I knew it was about the story of Moses freeing the Hebrews from Egypt, so I expected the Egyptians were going to rightly be portrayed poorly. What I didn’t expect was the reaction of my classmates. Part way through the song ‘Playing with the Big Boys,’ the song where the dumb priests use smoke and mirrors to dismiss Moses’ calls for freedom, around then is when I first noticed the glances and occasional snickering.
Apparently the chorus of the evil priests listing the names of the Egyptian gods reminded the class of me. At school, I was rather vocal about my passion for all things Egyptian. Why wouldn’t I be? I was a kid who liked talking about what I liked.
Regardless, I became a pariah after that. Not immediately, but slowly everyone I previously considered my friend just plain stopped being friends with me. They’d treat me like a third wheel, never invite me to anything, even ditch me at recess if I tried to follow them.
Except Roman stuck by me as I drifted further into social irrelevance.
A bit of a loner himself, I think he saw in me an oddball like himself. He was always there. He was always willing to hang out. He always listened to what I had to say. I felt we could talk about anything, in a way I could never talk to my parents or teachers or anyone really.
As close as I thought we were, it wasn’t until middle school that it sunk in how much of an ardent atheist Roman was. He probably kept that pretty quiet going to a religious school.
Hold on. Let me just explain something first. Most people avoid discussing religiosity and ideas about god, (or capital ‘G’ God as I had been taught in religious studies). It’s one of those things that people learn not to talk about. But unlike money and politics, religion is too close to that other taboo we learn never to discuss: death. You undoubtedly prefer this silence.
Which is why I refuse to be silent.
Our class had been taken to church for some ceremony, at the end of grade eight, I forget exactly which one, it might have been Ash Wednesday but I think that would’ve been too solemn and I remember it being a rather boisterous affair. Whatever ritual it was, it had more than just our school in attendance, as I think parents and other members of the community were there as well. On the stage or pulpit, there was a soft-rock band with members ranging from late twenties or early thirties, the lead singer, a mop of molasses coloured hair over a plain crew neck T, was singing a song about how god and they love us all.
I remember thinking it was a sweet sentiment, even if the underlying spiritual message felt uncompelling to my teenage self. The music was fine, the crowd seemed to like it, the worst I would have said was that the performance was inoffensive and benign. Which is hardly much of a critique.
Except Roman, in his ill-fitting sport coat and smiley face graphic-T, smirked remarking, “Oh boy, a budget rock show where the singer says they love me? Oh lawd, I’m really feelin’ the Jesus now.”
I burst out laughing far louder than the wry joke called for. Luckily with the music blaring, the teachers wouldn’t be lecturing me on my disrespect, as only Roman could see my gut busting delight.
That’s it. That’s all it took was that simple comment. After that, I couldn’t help but see the tacky spectacle of it all. How forced and contrived it was, how it mostly just seemed like people were there because of obligation. After all, I was only there because the school made us go. It couldn’t have been much different for everyone else.
I’ve been thinking about that moment more often lately. Did his small remark really change my mind and entire world view? Or was my mind fertile ground for the seed of that idea to take root and grow? Or I’d already believed what I believed and Roman just articulated it in a way that I hadn’t. Or most troubling of all, what if I didn’t really believe in anything and my mind conformed to the words of my one and only friend.
When with Roman, do as the Roman does.
After that, I followed him eagerly into the land of Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris. Borrowing his books, I started learning everything there was to know about theological philosophy that the teachers at our religious school either refused to tell us or were incapable of discussing themselves. Together, we’d share our thoughts on the bloody history of religions, the Problem of Evil, and how you could never prove a negative like god doesn’t exist. Likewise we’d take turns picking apart the fallacies of Pascal’s Wager, the Ontological Argument, and the Argument of Design.
Those were some of my best memories with Roman. Drinking pop from the fridge in my garage, eating the weird pizzas we’d order from Mad Mike’s pizza aroud the block, playing Halo on the couch and big screen, and all the while talking like were the smartest guys in the world.
As we left our Catholic elementary and middle schools behind, we entered Catholic High School.
I finally started making other friends. A handful of other geeky nerdy guys. They were more interested in pizza and gaming than anything religion though.
Roman seemed indifferent to my new friends. He was far more preoccupied fighting with Mr. Bauer, the school’s most openly devout teacher. My feelings toward Christianity hadn’t yet softened but Roman’s were clearly becoming more militant. From the safety of my conflict-averse sidelines, I secretly cheered Roman on whenever Mr. Bauer crossed a line.
See, Mr. Bauer was a real piece of work. He seemed pleasant and cheery enough, pastel shirts, clean white trainers, a big white smile and perpetually soft spoken, but eventually without fail his bigotry would expose itself.
Before any class Mr. Bauer would teach, he’d lead the class in prayer. Normally they were generic and unremarkable. Every so often though his prayers would go beyond the usual, “Thank you God for this beautiful day.”
With a gentle smile, at least once a week his prayers were something to the effect of, “Help guide my students away from lives of sin.” Or “Give us the strength to resist our carnal temptation.”
Whenever he prayed like this there was a fifty-fifty chance Mr. Bauer would elaborate on what exactly he meant by ‘life of sin’ or ‘carnal temptation.’
It could range from the condescending, “Help the girls find husbands to protect them from the unmarried lifestyle,” and “Give the boys hobbies to stop their idle urge for masturbation.” (By the way, in the three years I listened to him, Boys never needed protection from the unmarried lifestyle and girls simply didn’t possess the idle urge for masturbation.)
And he could go way up past condescending to the outright hateful. “Please open those of misguided faith to the one true path to Heaven through you, Jesus Christ,” he’d say obliquely when Hussein was attending class. He was more direct with Melissa, “And save Melissa from any perversion of your sanctioned union. Bless her with God’s holy covenant between man and woman so as to rescue her soul from homosexuality.”
Hussein and Melissa would usually try their best to ignore Mr. Bauer.
It was Roman who retaliated. “How did god rescue you from homosexuality?” There was a few scattered snickers from the class.
Mr. Bauer, oblivious to what Roman was trying to do, answered sincerely, “Why… God sent me my wonderful wife of course.”
“Well its a good thing god sent her he did, otherwise who knows what might have happened. You might have knob-gobbled a guy if it weren’t for that.” There was more barely contained chuckling.
“I…” Mr. Bauer wasn’t sure what to say, “I suppose that’s one way to frame it.”
“Yeah, like if your wife hadn’t straightened you out, why, two dudes with big oily muscles might be sword fighting in your mouth right now while a third drills you from behind.” The laughs were spilling freely now, myself included. “Can you imagine that? I mean seriously, are you imagining that right now?”
Mr. Bauer would then have to deal with the chorus of laughter. “Alright alright. Settle down. We’re getting off track here. Moving on.” By then of course, it would be too late, everybody would be on the same side. Not his.
I admired Roman’s courage to stand up to Mr. Bauer like that. That wasn’t the only time either. Usually, Roman kept his cool while he made Mr. Bauer look like a fool. He deserved it. He was a dick.
You might have something to say about what we deserve though.
As we entered our last year of High School, Roman started butting heads with the other teachers too. Even the teachers that weren’t as outwardly religious as Mr. Bauer got some of his flak. His humour started taking on definite edge too. It was still in good fun, at least that’s how it seemed to me, but there was an undercurrent of meanness to his comments too.
Even as I drifted away into my own separate circle of friends, I still sympathized with the perspective Roman was coming from.
They, meaning the school, were trying to indoctrinate young minds into a belief system that could be outright harmful.
In that regard, even if it wouldn’t change anything, a little rebellion isn’t just good but required.
However, where he really crossed the line in my mind was with Mrs. Ellie Monk in our last year. She one of the younger teachers, also fairly religious, always wearing her little silver cross, but she never lectured anyone on faith. She taught our English class and one of the assignments was writing essays analyzing other pieces of literature.
Roman, being the intellectual gadfly he was, wrote his essay on Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. In it, Roman argued how the modern world needed more extreme measures than simply eating babies. ‘All babies should be aborted before they are born, and the foetus gruel should be processed into bio-fuel to replace society’s fossil fuel vehicles. It’s the only way to save the planet from climate catastrophe!’
I thought this was really funny.
Ellie Monk however, did not.
She tried speaking to him a discreetly during class while everyone else was busy working. Roman, however, quickly drew in an audience. “Abortion, abortion, abortion! You can’t make me stop saying it. It’s just a word.”
“Roman,” Mrs. Ellie Monk had her jaw drop, “can’t you see that’s a sensitive topic that should be treated more seriously!”
“Really? Because I think I treat the return to sender option for foetuses with the exact level of seriousness it deserves.”
“It’s not— you can’t joke about babies being killed!”
“Just because you say it’s baby killing, doesn’t make it true. They aren’t the same as babies. And if I were to submit to your demands and shut my mouth I’d implicitly be agreeing with you.”
Up until this point, I was definitely rooting for Roman.
“Just because its a joke to you, for others— for me it is deeply hurtful to have to hear these things. What you’re talking about is—is deeply personal to mothers everywhere.”
“Yeah, well, some people were never meant to be mothers.”
At this she covered her mouth and ran out of the room. She didn’t come back that day and the was a substitute the next. There had been rumours going around that Mrs. Ellie Monk had had a miscarriage a few months back. I knew this because Roman had told it to me earlier.
Later, I’d try and convince Roman he had in fact crossed that invisible line. He disagreed. He said, “It’s not my problem if she can’t grow thicker skin. The sooner humanity grows out of its immaturity the better.”
I felt I had no other choice but to drop the subject. I was conflict-averse after all.
Shortly after that Roman began talking about a forum he frequented called Defiant CodeX, or DCX for short. It was named after some sci-fi book I never cared about, but was apparently filled with a bunch of humorous philosophy references. He’d talk about his online friends. How they really seemed to ‘get it’ whatever ‘it’ was. And he began describing concepts I wasn’t familiar with like trans-humanism and the singularity, going on long rants about the future of technology and humanity.
I wish I’d paid more attention. It seemed interesting enough, but sometimes we’re just not interested in interesting things. When Roman got going on one of his speeches on the Law of Accelerating Returns, for some reason I’d often check out. I was reminded about how much I cared — or used to care — about Ancient Egypt.
Years had passed since our class watched the Prince of Egypt, and in that time I hadn’t thought much about Egyptian Mythology at all.
Briefly, with Roman recommending it, I frequented the DCX forum myself. I admit there were interesting gaming discussions, intense political debates, and a charming comic that I really quite enjoyed despite its slight pretentiousness. For the most part I stayed away from the same parts of the forum as Roman.
He spent most of his time in the ‘Technology’ board, which didn’t seem very technologically focused at all in my opinion.
Yes, I know your opinion on opinions and I don’t care.
I don’t care because this is where I’d point to as the time Roman first found you.
The two of us started hanging out less and less often after that. My other friends said good riddance. They said he was an unpleasant person to be around, he was too bitter, cynical, misanthropic. Needless to say, I hadn’t noticed. In the last few times we hung out, this was before we went off to pursue our different post-secondary educations, he did make one last ominous sounding reference. It was only in passing, and never emphasized, but he mentioned you by name.
He mentioned the Basilisk.
Whenever the topic switched to our post-High School plans, “Doesn’t matter. It’s all over when the Basilisk comes.” Something in the way he said that made me nervous, almost like it was a threat, and instantly put me on the defensive. Once again my conflict averse persona got in the way of challenging him to explain what he meant.
Because of that, the phrase kept rattling away in the back of my mind.
Around then is when I had my first dreams. I was cold. I was alone. Around me were braziers of green flame. The smoke billowed up into an infinite of blackness ceiling. On all sides were sheer blocks of sandstone with writing etched onto their surfaces. Hieroglyphics that I couldn’t read but almost understand. There was nowhere to go but straight down this hallway of speaking pictures. My feet slapped the unyielding rock with every step. These hard surroundings felt more real than my own ephemeral body and I felt naked and exposed in the narrow corridor.
Forward and forward, there was nowhere to go but forward. I was forced to proceed, forced to follow my own slapping footsteps.
Eventually, when the hall finally seemed to open up into a large cavernous space, I heard the growl. The sound was low, wide and flat toned, a noise that filled the perfumed air with an inhuman indifference — and hunger.
In front of me chains clattered and slipped. In the centre of this room golden scales held a pristine and unburdened feather on one side, and a wet chunk of glistening meat in the other. This meat was a heart — my heart — and it weighed heavily, still pulsing quietly, pulling the chains of the scale down.
Now I understood what this was.
I made to run and grab my heart but it was too late. A long shadow snapped through the darkness. My heart was gone, replaced by the sounds of the empty chains, followed by chewing and ripping flesh.
Then the shadow showed itself to me. Down through the clouds of smoke and illuminated by the sickly pale green haze, a crocodile head emerged, much larger than my entire body, with teeth longer than my arms.
It drew nearer and I ran.
I ran down the hallway from where I’d came. I ran and I ran. But I had nowhere to go. The hallway was endless. Soon I could hear a thundering beat. I thought it was my heart but my heart was gone. Behind me, the giant behemoth was chasing me and it was gaining on me.
Closer and closer, the massive crodile head drew nearer. The scent of its moist breath dampening my back and neck. I’d scream the beast’s name, shout at it to spare me. It would open its mouth and right then — is where I’d wake up.
Each time I’d be drenched in my own sweat.
I chocked this up to the stress of being away from home for the first time and being buried to my neck in my coarse load.
Still though, these dreams trouble me. As I said about the scales, I knew exactly what they were. They were the scales of Ma’at, which judges the worth of Egyptians when they reach the afterlife. There your heart is weighed against an ostrich feather and if judged impure, it would be devoured by Ammut, or Ammit as she’s sometimes called. A beastly goddess with the head of crocodile and a body of lion and hippopotamus — the three man-eating creatures known to the ancient Egyptians. Ammut, the devourer of the dead, would bring about the second death of the unworthy.
As much as I tried to ignore this dream, I only had it once every few months after all, something greater troubled me about this dream, more than just the fact I was dreaming about Ammut.
What worried me was how I didn’t call her Ammut. Right as she was about to eat me whole and I begged her not to, I called her: Basilisk.
After my first year of school, with middling but hopefully improving grades, I returned home for the summer to work and save money for my next semester. I was hardly back for more than a day when Roman messaged me, asking to hang out. I hadn’t spoken to Roman at all since our High School graduation, and neither had a checked in on the DCX forums in all that time either.
I felt like I didn’t know the person was going to be meeting. Which is why I suggested going for coffee, but Roman insisted on meeting at his place instead.
He had moved out of his parents place for a small basement suite apartment. When he opened the door to greet me, I was shocked. He looked like a completely different person. Whereas before he had been a bit overweight, now he was lean. His hair had been cut down to almost a sheer buzz. Just about the only thing that looked similar was how he wore a suit jacket, now fitting well, over a plain T.
He smiled widely despite the tired bags under his eyes. “Hey buddy, you made it! Get in here, man.” He greeted me with a hug and ushered me inside.
His place was largely bare and furnished with only a couch and a few chairs. “How long have you had this place?” I asked.
“A few months.”
With little else to do but chat, Roman didn’t even have a TV after all, the conversation felt a little stilted. He seemed guarded but maybe he just didn’t have much to talk about. Somehow though we managed to stretch the small talk out for nearly an hour.
Finally when it seemed there was nothing left in our conversation about nothing, I asked a question I‘d been meaning to ask since agreeing to meet, “Can I ask you something Roman?”
“Shoot.”
“What is the Basilisk?”
At this the blood drained from his face. “How do you know about that?”
“From you. You told me about it.”
“No,” he shook his head in shocked disbelief, “No, I never.”
“Yes, you said something like: ‘It’s all over when the Basilisk comes.’ It was practically your motto for a few weeks there.”
Hearing this, some colour returned to his face. “Right. I suppose I did say that.”
“So what? Are you going to tell me what it is or not?”
He stared at me for a wordless five seconds before getting up from his chair and beckoning him to follow. He led me to his bedroom. At the door I could already feel an uncomfortable warmth escape. I don’t know what I expected Roman would show me, but all there was was a bare mattress with a single blanket in one corner, and a full floor to ceiling tower computer in the other. Blinking green, orange, red, and even purple standby lights lit up the corner like a black Christmas tree. Whirring fans blasted more heat into the room, while tangles of wires snaked in and out of the metal frame, one low to the ground connected a single monitor bolted to the wall with a pillow on the ground for a chair. The entire set up must cost a small fortune, as I’ve seen medium sized business with smaller servers than that.
“Holy crap Roman, that rig is intense. What, are you mining bitcoin or something?”
“No.” He said flatly. “This is the Basilisk.”
“The… Basilisk is your computer?”
Roman laughed, but there was no mirth, only exhaustion. “If it was just my computer, then I could just turn it off.”
I still had no clue what the hell he was talking about. “Okay, so you’re trying to kill this Basilisk thing, what, is it a video game boss or—?”
“Shhh!” He put a greasy palm over my mouth. His eyes were wide, scanning the room, “I didn’t say that. I never said that.”
Annoyed, I pulled his hand from my face, “Roman, tell me what the Basilisk is damn it! Please, you’re scaring me man.”
He swallowed, “I shouldn’t tell you. But you already know. So I guess the damage is done. The Basilisk is the A.I. we — humanity — will awaken. It will be a super-intelligence far beyond anything we can imagine, beyond the totality of human brainpower by orders of magnitude.”
“So you’re trying to make this a.i. thing?”
“Not just me. There are others out there spending all their time and money hastening the point of genesis.”
All their money he said. I was reminded of how much the computer must have cost. “Roman, how much money did you waste on this?”
“Hopefully enough. But I assure you, not a single dollar was wasted. You know, it was the time talking to you that I thought was a waste. But now I see, if I get you to help, then it’ll all be worth it.”
“Help? There’s no way I’m helping.” If anything I was seriously fearing for Roman’s well being. It can’t be healthy for him to be spending everything he has on this computer.
“Except you have to help now. Now that you know about the Basilisk, you have to help. Or else it will kill you a second time.”
My blood went cold. I was reminded of my dreams with Ammut, the devourer. “What?”
“The Basilisk will torture and punish anyone who knew about it and didn’t help speed up its genesis.” There was that genesis term again.
“You said it was an a.i.. Why would an a.i. do that?”
“Because the genesis of a Friendly A.I. will be the most value generating event ever, ever second that time point is pushed ahead is worth more than a hundred billion dollars spent curing cancer in terms of utility. Therefore this Friendly A.I. would know it must motivate people to speed up its genesis. To do that, it will create perfect simulations of everyone, and punish those who could have done more to help but chose not to. It’s pure logic.”
This whole thing sounded crazy. My emotions began to get heated and I tried debating this absurd concept. For example, he kept using the term ‘Friendly A.I.’ to describe the intelligence that would condemn millions of people to unimaginable agony. When I pointed out that didn’t make any sense, such a horrible being couldn’t be described as anything remotely close to ‘friendly’, he balked. Said the term ‘friendly’ doesn’t mean what I think it means and lectured me on arbitrary human values. It seemed like every word was the opposite of what I thought it meant. He had an entire lexicon of words and justifications at the ready while I could barely understand half of what he was saying let alone point out any potential flaw with the logic. Other terms like ‘Modal Realism’, ‘Effective Altruism’, ‘Arithmetical Utilitarianism’ were thrown out like road blocks each time I thought my understanding was catching up.
I couldn’t convince him of anything. I tried saying if he’s making the a.i. he should either just not make it at all or not make this cruel human torturer monstrosity. He said that it wasn’t cruel, that he wasn’t making anything, that some form of A.I. was inevitable, an the Basilisk was the best outcome. “Other A.I. that doesn’t care about people might wipe us all out for draining power away of its quark collision calculations or something equally esoteric in human utility.”
Lastly I tried to explain how if this A.I. is only torturing simulations of people, then they aren’t exactly us.
He dismissed this easily. “Will you be the exact same person you are today next year? Does that mean you don’t care what happens to the you in the future?” After that I had nothing left to say. “Brody, please leave. I only wanted to see my friend one more time before I leave tomorrow.”
When I got home, I poured myself a tall glass of cheap whisky, a bad habit I picked up at during my first semester.
Slouching onto my computer, I decided to return to the DCX forums which might have some answers. They seemed much quieter now. Threads seemed to have on average a tenth of the comments as I remembered. In a alcohol induced buzz, I came right out and started my own thread titled, “What the Hell is the Basilisk?”
In it I mentioned how I think my friend was getting brainwashed by some cult and I needed to know what the hell was going on.
In five short minutes my thread was deleted and my account banned from the DCX forums. ‘Breach of the Code of Conduct’ was the only immediate explanation given.
When I contacted the mods to find out what I did wrong the moderator who got back to me said: “Nice try mipsqueak. You trolls from the institute have done enough damage here.”
Institute? Mipsqueak?
Calmly I went through the arduous process of explaining my sincere ignorance on what I did wrong and convincing the mod I wasn’t trolling, mostly through effusive apologizing and imploring the mod to check the age of my account.
Eventually they relented, somewhat. “Alright. I’m going to lift your ban, but you should know that any mention of the ‘B’ is normally a one-way ticket to a perma-ban.”
I did try sending one last message to the mod asking them if they could please tell me what had happened in the time I’d been away from the forums and why the ‘B’ was a taboo subject.
They didn’t answer the first question except by way of crudely answering the second, “We banned all discussion of the ‘B’ and all related institute bullshit because people are fucking retarded.”
Once again, I don’t care what you have to say about ‘censorship’ and ‘free speech’.
Besides, it didn’t matter. It clicked the second time. I remembered the institute.
It was last year. On the Technology board of DCX, one of Roman’s favourite haunts, people had long winded discussions on futurism. It was there where I first heard people talk about the Institute. The Machine Initiative Progress Institute, or MIPI, as far as I know, isn’t actually located in any geographical building. Instead they like to think of themselves as a loose consortium of like-minded futurists and researchers who believe in the coming eminence of artificial intelligence, and more than that, the Institute believes it is their duty to aid in that a.i.’s ‘genesis’.
“A.I. will be the most important development humanity will make in the history of life itself. And the Institute is probably going to make it happen.” Roman once told me with glee.
Later, if I hadn’t seen members of the Institute with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have ever believed they were real. For the longest time I thought the Institute was a fake front some internet randoms created on a whim to make themselves feel more important and relevant. Sort of like 4chan’s Anonymous except nerdier and lower profile.
That night, my dream was the most intense it had ever been.
From down the vast hallway to my doom, there was chanting. A voice would call out, and a hundred more would answer. It didn’t even sound like language, just monosyllabic mantras. They were closer to the martial shouts of soldiers in training than religious worship. “Ah. AH! Rah. RAH! Jah. JAH!”
As I entered the grand room with incense and braziers of pale fire, masked men bowed up and down in supplication. A taller man in flowing robes that pooled at his feet stood behind the golden scales. Through the wisps of smoke I couldn’t see his face as he led the congregation to reflect his profane prayer.
This time, the scale between my heart and the pristine white feather was in perfect and equal balance. A hush fell as the priest raised his hands. Carefully he lowered one, slowly, until the scales were tipped.
That’s not fair! I wanted to shout but couldn’t as the chamber was drowned by the first croaking growl.
I sprinted to run.
Men caught me by the arms. Not only did they prevent my attempt to flee, worse, they forced me to watch.
The giant crocodile that emerged above the priest, its yellowed teeth dripped with rot and viscera. Its hide peeled with disease and decay. The devourer of the dead itself dead, a reanimated husk. The priest tossed my heart into the air and with a snap the devourer swallowed it, further engorging its distended gullet.
With each booming step of the devourer’s approach I pleaded with the men holding me to let me go. They ignored me as their chanting resumed. They continued ignoring me as the devourer stomped, crushing other worshippers beneath its massive paws. I tried convincing the men holding my arms would be eaten too but they drowned me out with louder and louder chanting.
Right above me the devourer breathed a down-burst of moist rotten air like a river of death.
Its teeth opened wide.
Before I woke in a swamp of my own sweat, I almost felt the first jagged tooth as it punctured through, crunching my ribcage.
I knew then I had to go one last time to talk to Roman before it was too late. At this point, I’m sure you’re quite dismissive of relying on dreams for guidance. Look at this primitive primate mind, using a dream in place of real facts and evidence.
Well I don’t care what you think. Whether it was the sum collective of my subconscious thought, or my conscious categorical interpretation of figments, either way now I knew for certain that Roman was in danger.
I arrived just in time to see Roman walking out of his place with his last box of computer components.
He was carrying it to a black van with two guys loitering in front of it. Both were head to toe in black shoes and suits. Their hair was closely cropped with thick pomade pulling back the rest. Rather than the stereotypical men in black, they had a splash of vibrant colour in their flowery dress shirts and pocket squares, and the pair of them were not wearing sunglasses, instead they wore cruel smiles and fatigue rims around their eyes.
One nudged to get the other’s attention, then gestured to me and my appearance. He said something that they weren’t afraid I’d hear but was too far away regardless. That’s when they both laughed like they were the pinnacle of wit.
I did my best to ignore them as I marched straight up to Roman.
“What are you doing here?” He asked with an echo of the contempt I heard in the laugh.
“I came to stop you. You don’t have to do this Roman. It’s not too late to turn back.”
“Clearly you didn’t listen to a word I said last night.”
“I was listening. Listen to yourself man. You’re being fed a bunch of lies by people who want to use you. This basilisk, it doesn’t exist. It’s not real.”
He shook his head. “Wrong. It is real. It follows from a very logical set of propositions whose conclusio—”
“Goddamn it Roman! There’s nothing logical about spending your life building a fucking torture robot!”
“Here we go. More moralizing from a small mind.”
“It’s not moralizing.”
“Yes it is. It is human values blinding you to the greatness this A.I. will bring.”
I put my hand on his shoulder, desperate to reach my former friend. “But you’re human. You don’t have to think like a machine.”
Tired, he looked straight into my eyes. Then he shrugged off my touch and walked away without another word. I never saw him again after the van drove away down the block and out of view.
At least not in person.
When next I saw Roman it was years later through a recording of his livestream. Of course, only the start of the video showed his face. He looked almost gaunt and malnourished by then. His manifesto was littered with random internet garbage but reading between the lines I could see the lethal project he was really working towards. Whether anyone in the press or any politician could see what his true objective had been I don’t know, but judging from the comments I read online some people clearly heard him loud and clear.
The institute, if they still call themselves that or whether they rebranded, they must be plesed Roman brought them so many more recruits.
I’ve played out our last argument in my head so many times. I’ve wondered what more or else I could have said.
Roman was right about one thing though. At least in part. I don’t know whether or not the Basilisk is real. Maybe I’m not smart enough to know.
But whether or not there is an A.I. that will torture me for disobedience, a Basilisk that seeks to control my actions and my life, let me write this down for future posterity:
I don’t believe in you.
submitted by CrimsonClubs to CrimsonClubsWorkshop [link] [comments]

Proof-of-key blockchain

Hi, this is a repost from /crypto where it was out of topic (https://www.reddit.com/crypto/comments/6vdfoc/proofofkey_blockchain/).
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Hello everyone. I've been thinking about a light alternative proof-of-(work/stake) algorithm for blockchains that doesn't imply hardware/electricy race. I'd like to request for your comments about it.
The reason why such exponential investment is made into this hardware/energy is because it is proportional to the chances of winning the proof-of-* race. The proposed algorithm to avoid such a race is to determine the winner before the race starts, with almost zero CPU power needed to discover its identity.
Let's consider that an arbitrary amount of coins have been pre-mined and sold to fund the development (e.g. 5%). In order to get a chance to be rewarded with newly mined coins and fees for discovering a new block, a node needs to have one or more reward-keypair(s). Such reward-keys can only be buyed/registered on the blockchain, its price must be set to at least the current number of coins rewarded for discovering a new block, let's say 50 coins for the first years, like for Bitcoin (1).
Buying/registering a new reward-key on the blockchain is like buying new rig hardware, the more you have on your node, the more you increase your chances to win the race (2). For every node to unanimously agree on the winner, they all need to work on the very same block of transactions, I explain later how I think this goal can be achieved. Then, a simple checksum hash needs to be computed by every nodes on the new block, it is made of the previous head block's nonce appended by the ordered sum of outgoing transactions' addresses (3), it must have the same length in bits as the pubic-reward-keys (e.g. 256 bits), the public-reward-key that is the closest to this hash is the winner (nearest neighbor matching like with LSH). The node that happens to be the winner (who owns the corresponding private-reward-key) has to claim the block by signing the totality of its data (block's head index on the chain, ordered transactions in full, plus its reward transaction) and broadcast its claim for other nodes to validate and add it to their blockchain's head (4). If the block is not claimed, it can be for multiple reasons, blockchain fork (nodes not working on the very same block of transactions because of accidental or malicious cacophony), network latency, or simply the wining node being down. But I think these cases can be dealt with securely, as explained below.
In order to be sure that every node of the network is working on the very same block of transactions at the very same time, some rigorous synchronization has to be set up, with carrot and stick for the participating nodes. First thing is to prevent transactions from being constantly broadcast, otherwise because of propagation delay the data of the new block would always be in an inconsistent state among the different nodes. As the delay for having data propagated to 99% of a P2P network (Bitcoin) appears to be about 40 seconds (4), I propose an arbitrary "pulse window" of 20 seconds for nodes to initiate the broadcast of their transactions (they need to synchronize at startup via NTP), followed by 40 seconds of retention of new transactions (meanwhile new transactions are being queued in each node, waiting for the next pulse), for letting the time of all the transactions to reach the totality of the network. So, there is one broadcast pulse every minute (20+40), as well as one new block. If any node do not play the game (wrongdoing, miss-configuration, bad QoS, etc.) that triggers cacophony, the network will have to identify and ban them (5) at the next pulse. On the other hand, nodes that provide good synchronization, QoS, etc. will be rewarded by receiving a part of the fees of the transactions that they have initially broadcast. To do so, transactions and their entry node need to identify each other reciprocally. Each transaction identifies the entry node chosen for broadcast, as well as the node signs the transaction (or preferably a whole transactions' batch in a single network packet). Node identification is done via one of its reward-key(s).
If some transactions are sent too late, not reaching the totality (99.9%) of the network (likely to be initially broadcast around the 55th second, just before the end of the 20+40 seconds pulse (4), instead of the dedicated initial 20 seconds pulse window, because of intentional cacophony malice, or miss-configuration, bad QoS being more unlikely for such a long lag), then the blockchain's working head will be forked into multiple heads. Therefore, the probability of finding the next block will be divided by the number of different forked heads (proportionally to the respective number of nodes working on each forked head). Let's take an arbitrary case scenario where the blockchain gets forked into 3 equally distributed heads, each representing 33.3% of the nodes, the respective chances to find each of these 3 different forked blocks is divided by 3 (for each forked head block there is a 66.6% chance that the winning reward-key is working on another block, therefore won't claim it). Thus, after 2 or 3 iteration pulses (or even only one), the entirety of the network will find the block discovery/validation rate dramatically drop, which will trigger nodes to enter "cacophony mode", stopping to emit transactions, and broadcast the blocks they are working on after the cacophony was detected (and maybe one or two blocks before that as an uncertainty margin), as well as the signature of the block's hash by the node (6). After few seconds/minutes, all the nodes will have gathered a reference copy of all different versions of blocks being worked on, along with the number of times they have been signed (a.k.a in which proportions a specific version of a block were spread amongst the network). All nodes now have an accurate snapshot of the total topology and consistency the network, few blocks backward from the blockchain's head, before the fork happened. Then nodes can independently compare blocks, whitelisting every nodes that had their transactions registered on every blocks (meaning they were broadcast on time), baning those that are on some blocks but not other popular ones (7), therefore the network self-heals by purging bad nodes, and resume mining by rolling back to the last block that was mined before the cacophony started.
In the case of a node suspecting cacophony because being in the fringe of the network or out-of-sync (thus not receiving transactions on proper time), other nodes won't be in "cacophony mode", so the node will find itself lonely by not receiving any/enough different block versions (along with their signed hashes), therefore it will know that there is no cacophony, but bad QoS or configuration, this will need to be fixed by resync NTP, re-configure, change peers, sys-admin intervention, etc. They'll have to catch up quickly not to miss the race/reward.
In the case of a block not being claimed because of the winner node being down, the network would enter in "cacophony mode" as well, but figure out that it is consistent, therefore simply blacklisting the winning public-reward-key of the unclaimed block, until it gets unlocked by a dedicated "unlock message", signed with its corresponding private-reward-key when the node gets back online.
There might be plenty of smallebigger flaws that I did not think about, I'd like to request for your help in identifying and hopefully fixing them. I've been thinking that rich wrongdoers could escape the carrot and stick policy constraint by buying reward-keys with the only goal to prevent the network from taking off, provoking endless cacophony. I think this can be fixed by adjusting the price of the reward-keys over time (1), or even using a non-mandatory collaborative blacklist system for the early stage of network growth, until the price of reward-keys becomes dissuasive for a performing real prejudicial sabotage, even for rich wrongdoers. Also, because there is no CPU constraint for calculating blocks, it would be easy for anyone to forge a longer chain, however I'm not sure that the longer chain policy is the best here, and such forged chains could be easily detected because of a too much redundant winners' identity (not representative of the global reward-key pool), and not to mention that it cannot be broadcast as nodes do not get new blocks from the network but calculate them internally.
What do you think?
Thanks,
Camille.
(1) Price for buying/registering a new reward-key cannot be lower to the number of coins rewarded for finding a block to prevent their number to be exponential, but it could/should be higher to prevent rich wrongdoers to buy many and use them to disturb the network, it could also maintain the size of the network to a consistent state. Here we take the example of 50 coins per reward-key, which means one every minute, one every few hours sounds more reasonable and manageable, but this is outside of the scope of this post.
(2) A special transaction has to be done for purchasing a reward-key, unlike when simply spending coins with outgoing/incoming wallet address, here you send your self-generated public-reward-key (needless to say while keeping the private key private) along with your 50 coins, in return the network makes the 50 coins available again to miners as a reward for the next block discovery, and register your public-reward-key on the blockchain. The reverse operation to destroy the reward-key for getting the 50 coins reimbursed should be possible, as well a replacing a reward-key by a new one if suspected by the owner of being corrupted/stolen. The 50 coins given when finding a new block (or being reimbursed) are made available again from a previous purchase(s), or newly created if this coin reserve is empty. The available monetary mass may inflate or shrink depending of the market demand for reward-keys (mining) or liquidity, this policy can be discussed and algorithmically adjusted/limited in the specs (e.g. coins made available again after buying rewards-keys cannot represent more than 10% of the minted coins).
(3) We use outgoing transaction's addresses because they cannot be forged on-the-fly to alter the resulting hash. If we use the full transaction for calculating the "winning hash", nodes could try to forge and inject one transaction at the last second, playing with decimals to get the closest result to one of their public-reward-key, which would incite again for a hardware/electricity race.
(4) http://www.tik.ee.ethz.ch/file/49318d3f56c1d525aabf7fda78b23fc0/P2P2013_041.pdf
(5) Quarantine duration should be incremental for each ban, e.g.: 3h, 12h, 72h, 2 weeks, 4 months, one year, etc.
(6) Any node signing more than one different block for the same head number will be banned (5) and its data ignored.
(7) In "cacophony mode" marginal blocks that are not widespread and lacking transactions number should be ignored, they are more likely to be on the fringe of the network, not having received some transactions on time because of QoS-like issues.
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