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Comment Re:unworkable (Score 1) 163

So this would raise the cost of selling rhino horns by forcing buyers to have every piece checked, right? Not that I'm sure this is a great idea: If the horns are similar enough to pass for real horns in some meaningful sense, then won't it be easier to hide real horns among legal, fake horns?

Comment Re:This was no AP. (Score 4, Insightful) 339

Which I guess is the major strategy of Al Qa'e'da - asymmetrical attacks Per Osama Bin Laden, their goal is to bankrupt the USA. They seem to have achieved a pretty good ROI if the returns are counted as dollars spend by the US fighting Al Qaeda. They don't even need to do anything these days, just having their name mentioned can cause costly countermeasures to kick in.

Comment Re:Do No Evil so why not delete the info? (Score 2) 138

say, you're actively committing fraud, by claiming that you're a doctor of alien sciences or some bullshit like that. should you be able to remove all criticism about your "alien artifact healing technology" or not?

should some random dude be able to remove _my_ information that I _want_ to be available?

To the first, I don't believe that is the kind of information Google is required to remove. To the second, Google requires verification of ID as part of the removal process.

Don't get me wrong, I think asking search engines to forget publically available data is censorship, and it seems like it must cost Google quite a bit to comply with such requirements. Still, let's at least criticize this development for what it is, not for what it might be in bizarro-world.

Comment Re:Unregulated currency (Score 1) 704

Hopefully the counterparty risk in trusting an exchange with your funds is now obvious enough people start demanding exchanges adopt procedures to let people check their BTC solvency at any time, and implement m-of-n transactions to ensure the exchange alone can't spend bitcoins without the user who owns the BTC signing off on it first.

Bitcoin is not designed to work in an environment where trust is important. It's designed to make it unnecessary to trust banks such as flexcoin to a large extent. That part needs some fleshing out, still, but the protocol offers a lot of opportunity for it.

Comment Re:No. (Score 1) 241

What does this even mean? If you can transfer "brain state" to silicon, why can't you just make a copy of a living person instead of a dead or dying one? And if you had a silicon copy of yourself, would you be willing to kill the meat-you? No? Then I'd say a brain-state copy isn't you, it's a copy.

In short, either all this business about a continuous, individual consciousness is largely illusory or we just don't understand the phenomenon very well at all yet.

Comment Re:Ummm Bullshit (Score 1) 213

There are a number of benefits to litecoin, particularly the faster transaction time."

Transaction times are the same as for Bitcoin - practically instant. The confirmations are faster, but I don't see why that's a benefit. Bitcoin could have a faster confirmation time, too. If you cut confirmation time in, say, half each confirmation would only provide half the security of the longer time since a confirmation would be twice as easy to get into the blockchain, all other things being equal.

Now, you do get that first confirmation faster if the confirmation time target is lower, but if you're accepting Litecoins with only a few confirmations, you're probably dealing with small amounts and might as well accept 0-confirmation Bitcoin transactions.

I'd be happy to hear why a shorter confirmation time is a real benefit, but AFAIK it's not.

Comment Re: not as certain as you say (Score 1) 305

Some times miners do solve the next block more or less simultaneously. The block chain then splits for a moment, until one of the chains started is definitively longer than the other. The shorter chain then gets discarded, its blocks becoming 'orphaned'. This happens regularly and is expected. As for your example, per this behaviour your own blockchain would have to be longer than the one everyne else was on, or it would never be accpeted as valid. This would require some very serious computing power for you to have any appreciable chance of pulling your attack off. As for the hidden ways Bitcoin can be influenced... can you name some examples?

Comment Re:The Real World (Score 2) 305

One of the least uncertain aspects of Bitcoin is the number of BTC awarded per block mined. That is dictated by the protocol. The code is open source so you can check if you're willing and able.

Basically, though, the block reward gets halved every 210,000 blocks. That's happened once so far, and no-one pulled any switch to do it. Everyone running a Bitcoin node or miner simply runs code that has the same requirements to accept a block as valid. Some miner could have modified their software to produce 50-coin blocks even after block 210,000, but that would be pointless if other peers in the network weren't running software with the same modification.

You also stated block creation must be faster than one per 10 minutes on average now. It's possible that's temporarily true, but the network retargets the difficulty of finding a block to maintain the balance at 10 minutes per block. This is done by comparing the time it took to calculate the previous 2016 blocks, starting from the previous difficulty retarget, to the expected time of two weeks. If it's less, or more, the difficulty required for a block to be valid is adjusted to compensate, making it harder or easier to find a block. All the information needed to do this retargeting is publicly available.
You may want to have a look at:

In brief, there are no mystery hands behind the curtains pulling strings to make things happen. You're right that many of the basic choices were arbitrary - the maximum of just short of 21,000,000 BTC and the block creation time being obvious examples. The rules are, however, transparent, and in order to change any of them you'd have to modify the core software and convince people to start using your modified version. That wouldn't be very easy, since it would create a competing currency forking off the Bitcoin blockchain. Anyone holding Bitcoins would likely be pretty wary of such modifications, because the effects on the value of BTC could be deleterious.

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The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan