Is Craig Wright the real creator of Bitcoin?

The internet has been blowing up since it was revealed on Monday that Craig Wright is the creator of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a new currency that was created in 2009 by a phantom developer that went by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. The currency is unique because it allows its users to make transactions without a bank, and has grown popular enough to allow Bitcoins to be used to buy items from pizza to websites.  Nakamoto’s identity has always been shrouded in mystery, and added to the allure of the culture around Bitcoin. As of Monday, it was revealed to the world that Nakamoto is really an Australian businessman with 9 degrees. But everyone is not convinced.

This isn’t the first time the the creator of Bitcoin was said to be revealed. Just last year Wired and Gizmodo magazines claimed that Wright was Nakamoto. The reports were immediately criticized, with Wired reporting that claims of Wright as the creator of Bitcoin was a hoax. This time, Wright wrote his own blog post staking the claim as Nakamoto himself. This post was backed up by Bitcoin Foundation chief scientist Gavin Andresen, who showed support by writing a blog post of his own.

So how can we tell if Wright is really the creator of Bitcoin? It all comes down to signed cryptographic keys. Wright claims to be in possession of cryptographic keys that only the real Satoshi Nakamoto would have access to. Encryption works by using two keys, a private and public key to move data safely over the internet. Wright is claiming to have a private key that shows that he is the real Nakamoto. But even the existence of a private key has been contested. Having a private key doesn’t prove identity, it just proves that the person that is signing has access to the private key.

While Wright has taken steps to prove that with his private key, he can link to a bitcoin address mined by Satoshi Nakamoto, it makes you wonder how much it matters. Satoshi Nakamoto left the Bitcoin project. Although his work is the backbone of Bitcoin, it isn’t necessarily important to know who the real creator of Bitcoin is as far as Bitcoin’s future is concerned. But at least for now, there will still be a hint of mystery attached to Bitcoin’s creator.

Article via Mashable, 2 May 2016

Photo Vires In Numeris by Zach Copley [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Bitcoins could buy energy for less

Researchers discovered the technology behind Bitcoin that could help cut energy bills.

Technologists of Accenture have created a blockchain-based smart plug that can track power consumption and search for cheaper energy sources minute-by-minute. The current blockchain serves as the automated ledger that oversees Bitcoin and keeps tracks of where coins are spent.

The plug modifies the basic Bitcoin blockchain technology to make it actively look for cheaper power suppliers, which could help people living on low earnings who use prepayment meters that operate on a “pay-as-you-go” basis. Accenture has also adapted the blockchain to allow customers to actively negotiate deals, rather than simply signing contracts and confirming transaction records.

“It’s about how we put more business behaviour or logic into the blockchain,” said Emmanual Viale, head of the Accenture team at the firm’s French research lab.

The prototype works with other appliances in the house so when demand for energy is high, it searches for different suppliers and uses the modified blockchain to switch to the cheaper source. According to Accenture research, the modified blockchain would be able to save individuals using prepayment meters in the UK up to £660 million annually.

Although the Accenture system is still just a concept, it has huge potential to make energy use more affordable.

Article via BBC, 19 February 2016
Photo: Bitcoin by Chris Pirillo


Bitcoin is alive and well, many argue

Mike Hearn’s recent declaration that Bitcoin is a failed experiment has been met with staunch opposition from many of the currency’s key developers. Hearn has been accused of hyperbolizing the situation because he personally disagreed with decisions made by other developers; many have also said that he is guilty of self-promotion for his new company R3CEV.

Throughout its years of operation, Bitcoin has alternately been considered the future of money and a wasted project. Hearn is the current voice behind the dissolution of Bitcoin, causing those like BitTorrent Founder Bram Cohen to tweet about Hearn’s farewell essay, “That was one whiny ragequit. He’s epically wrong on almost all technical points.” Greg Slepak published a point-by-point refutation of Hearn’s blog post; Sam Patterson similarly refuted a Washington Post article written from a pro-Hearn perspective.

The main controversy about Bitcoin’s demise stems from an original debate about block size. Blocks are virtual files that transaction data is permanently stored in, assembled in a linear sequence to form a “block chain.” The most recent block contains a very difficult mathematical puzzle that requires a correct answer in order to add a new block to the chain, thereby “unlocking” new Bitcoins. Currently, there’s a size limitation to the blocks, which limits the currency’s overall capacity.

Hearn and two others want to split the block chain in two, a move colloquially called the “hard fork,” whereas the other key developers have a different plan, alternatively titled “the roadmap.” The root of the issue, however, is more than technical jargon. Bitcoin is divided because it’s unclear as to who should govern the system. Hearn said that the virtual currency was “meant to be a new, decentralized form of money.” Yet without any centralization, Bitcoin remains a feud between opinionated elite software developers. Which out any form of governance, Bitcoin loses its opportunities at progress.

Then there are those who believe that without Hearn, a feud no longer exists. Mike Komaransky, an employee of the Bitcoin firm Cumberland Mining, tweeted, “Bitcoin Hearn Paradox- With him, consensus is hard to reach, [bitcoin] suffers. [Without] him, consensus is easy to reach, bitcoin prospers. he can’t win.”

Article via TechCrunch, 23 January 2016

Photo: Bitcoin by CoinDesk  [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Bitcoin declared a failure

Two years ago, British software developer Mike Hearn quit his job at Google so that he could dedicate himself to developing the new online currency, Bitcoin. The currency’s value and prevalence has fluctuated considerably these past two years, but it suffered perhaps its largest blow yet on Jan. 14: Hearn announced Bitcoin to be a failure and admitted that he had sold his entire collection of Bitcoins. The value of the currency fell 10 percent within a day.

In the blog post he wrote about the failure of the system, Hearn wrote, “Bitcoin has gone from being a transparent and open community to one that is dominated by rampant censorship and attacks on bitcoiners by other bitcoiners.”

Yet the need for an effective virtual currency is still great. Venezuelan citizens grapple with hyperinflation that devalues the paper money they own and makes buying simple products at the supermarket nearly impossible. Migrant workers sending money to families in Mexico, India and Africa lose 5 to 12 percent of their earned salary to money-transfer companies. Even in the United States, citizens lose 1 to 2.5 percent in each transaction with a credit-card company.

Bitcoin failed largely because it was unregulated. Criminals and drug users exploited the anonymous nature of the currency; venture capitalists invested millions in Bitcoin start-ups that were forced to navigate the changing value of the currency. Above all, Bitcoin was dominated by an elite few, and therefore it lost its egalitarian potential to help people in countries suffering from hyperinflation or working far from home.

“It (Bitcoin) has failed because the community has failed. What was meant to be a new, decentralized form of money that lacked ‘systemically important institutions’ and ‘too big to fail’ has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people,” said Hearn on his blog post.

Article via The Washington Post, 19 January 2016; The New York Times, 14 January 2016

Photo: Bitcoin by Tiger Pixel  [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]