Category Archives: Cryptography

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A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto Calls for an Anonymous Transaction System 16 Years Before the Launch of Bitcoin

The Cypherpunk movement, founded by Eric Hughes, Timothy C. May, and John Gilmore in 1992, ended up playing a crucial role in the origin and development of Bitcoin. A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto written by Eric Hughes in 1993, 16 years before the launch of Bitcoin, calls for an anonymous transaction system.

Specifically, within the manifesto, it says: “Since we desire privacy, we must ensure that each party to a transaction have knowledge only of that which is directly necessary for that transaction. Since any information can be spoken of, we must ensure that we reveal as little as possible.

Privacy in an open society requires anonymous transaction systems. Until now, cash has been such primary system. An anonymous transaction system is not a secret transaction system. An anonymous system empowers individuals to reveal their identity when desired and only when desired; this is the essence of privacy. Privacy in an open society also requires cryptography. If I say something, I want it heard only by those for whom I intend it. If the content of my speech is available to the world, I have no privacy. To encrypt is to indicate the desire for privacy, and to encrypt with weak cryptography is to indicate not too much desire for privacy. Furthermore, to reveal one’s identity with assurance when the default is anonymity requires the cryptographic signature.

We must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any. We must come together and create systems which allow anonymous transactions to take place. People have been defending their own privacy for centuries with whispers, darkness, envelopes, closed doors, secret handshakes, and couriers. The technologies of the past did not allow for strong privacy, but electronic technologies do”.

These are the principles upon which Bitcoin is built. Bitcoin is designed so that only a cryptographic address is necessary to send a transaction, with no unnecessary identifying information. Further, Bitcoin uses strong cryptography, indicating that the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, had a strong desire for privacy. Indeed, Satoshi was an active member of the Cypherpunk mailing list and collaborated with various Cypherpunks to develop Bitcoin. Satoshi built on top of the ideas behind several electronic cash systems developed by Cypherpunks including Hashcash, Bit Gold, and b-money.

A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto then defines the principles of Cypherpunks and what defines a Cypherpunk, saying “We the Cypherpunks are dedicated to building anonymous systems. We are defending our privacy with cryptography, with anonymous mail forwarding systems, with digital signatures, and with electronic money.

Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and since we can’t get privacy unless we all do, we’re going to write it. We publish our code so that our fellow Cypherpunks may practice and play with it. Our code is free for all to use, worldwide. We don’t much care if you don’t approve of the software we write. We know that software can’t be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can’t be shut down.

Cypherpunks deplore regulations on cryptography, for encryption is fundamentally a private act. The act of encryption, in fact, removes information from the public realm. Even laws against cryptography reach only so far as a nation’s border and the arm of its violence. Cryptography will ineluctably spread over the whole globe, and with it the anonymous transactions systems that it makes possible”.

Clearly, Satoshi was a true Cypherpunk, and Bitcoin likely would not exist without the research conducted by Cypherpunks on cryptography and electronic money for the 16 years between the time A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto was written and the launch of Bitcoin. Further, Cypherpunks such as Hal Finney were the original users of Bitcoin and played an essential role in keeping Bitcoin alive during the weeks and months after the genesis block.

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Crypto Pioneer David Chaum Builds Super Fast Blockchain Platform

Crypto guru and pioneer David Chaum is launching his own platform which he is promising will be able to process thousands of transactions a second.

The new platform named Elixxir will not only outpace Bitcoin, said Chaum at the Consensus conference in Singapore last week, but will allow digital cash to be traded at a similar speed to physical cash as well as cut down on the energy required.

Chaum is an American computer scientist and cryptographer famous for developing ecash, an electronic cash application that aims to preserve a user’s anonymity. He has also invented many cryptographic protocols and founded DigiCash, an electronic money corporation.

One of the reasons for cryptocurrency’s popularity is its speed of delivery to the user, with the Bitcoin network able to process around seven transactions a second. Chaum had been working on speeding up the processing time of electronic funds since the launch of DigiCash and then Bitcoin ten years later.

“These breakthroughs I’ve made change the whole game,” Chaum said in an interview. “We can actually meet the requirements to go to consumer scale…Truth be told, when I invented [DigiCash] there was no chance of using it… People didn’t even know about the internet.”

On the current Bitcoin network, transactions are processed in blocks. When connected, they create the blockchain which the stores the transaction on a ledger replicated on every computer. Miners compete to be the first to verify and process the transaction in a valid block, thus adding to the blockchain and collecting newly-created Bitcoin generated as a reward for finding new blocks.

Chaum’s Elixxir system limits these types of transactions, making the system less decentralized. These blocks won’t carry the transactions and won’t be linked to wallets, requiring less processing power due to less stored information. The key, he claims, is that producers will be given equal status, unlike the current system, thus eliminating the energy-intensive status quo.

Chaum has said that he will open up Elixxir as an open-sourced project to encourage improvement from developers in the future.

 

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Shortage of Blockchain Developers Causes Industry Issues

At the start of the year, Coincheck Inc suffered from a major hack, losing USD 550 million in tokens. The Tokyo-based exchange put one of the single biggest cryptocurrency thefts in history down to a lack of expertise among staff.

With the industry revolving around currency and holding data, it has attracted the attention of hackers. And with exchanges frequently found wanting in cybersecurity measures, there will only be so much that regulatory powers will tolerate. If this shortage of development expertise continues it could have detrimental effects on many businesses.

Demand for blockchain developers inflates salaries

With demand for developers at all-time highs, salaries are seeing a 20 to 30% rise from previous years. With experts in the industry often being aligned with the values of blockchain, there is no haste to assist some of the larger corporations which decentralization sets out to disrupt.

Japan doesn’t seem to be the only country struggling, even if the likes of the UK and US have engineers who can easily transition into this new field. Japan, on the other hand, seems to be stuck in a rut with employees often bound to lifelong careers with companies.

Current methods of dealing with the shortage

Large organizations are looking to invest in the future of their workforce by setting up in-house training centers to quickly bring their employees up to speed on the concepts behind blockchain. At the moment, most have only a basic understanding. Migrating entire systems over to blockchain requires employees to be more astute in the technology to produce more intuitive designs during development.

As they don’t currently possess the necessary skills, many companies have no choice but to outsource work. However, contracting work to blockchain freelancers is an expensive option and will only inhibit the abilities of smaller startups to off the ground. But ideas that can’t hire or afford to hire will be going nowhere.

With competition high and large organizations researching blockchain, the rush is on. Employers who can’t afford to wait for new graduates are now willing to take on employees without degrees. Since online courses and open resources are enough to bring some junior developers up to speed, they are able to complete basic roles within the industry.

Shortage of development expertise

Leading towards the end of Q4 2017, blockchain jobs had doubled from six months prior. From 2016 to 2017, a growth in startups had seen available positions triple, with a general lack of expertise in the industry.

With new startups on the rise and large organizations looking to explore the technology, it is hoped that millennials can rise to the challenge. Cryptocurrencies have already captured their attention, with younger generations often owning some. After being born into a digital age, they have the potential to bring innovation to the industry.

Have you got what it takes to become a blockchain developer?

 

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