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Comment Re:Bitcoin/Litecoin Performance (Score 4, Interesting) 208

BitCoin has ASIC miners with ~10X the mining power per watt than most programmable alternatives such as GPGPU and FPGA. Anything less efficient than that is or soon will become cost-prohibitive to run.

The newer Bitcoin alternatives use memory-bound algorithms to prevent such a steep mining power escalation since memory capacity and bandwidth scale much more slowly than processing power but much more quickly on costs: with Bitcoin, increasing throughput by 10X simply required 10X the processing power but with the memory-bound alternatives, you also need 10X the RAM and 10X the memory bandwidth.

Comment Long term (Score 2, Interesting) 122

Cloning isn't viable over the long term, even if you made it so, that implies a stagnant society.

Let's make some different, very likely, assumptions. Today's nascent cloning technology is unlikely to even slightly resemble that of the future; today's human (and pet) genome, with all of its flaws, is unlikely to resemble that of the future; We'll no longer be farming animals for food, perhaps not even vegetables; AI will be here, as will robotics without AI (service class machinery); planets orbiting stars will not be the only viable human environment; technology in general will be almost unrecognizable in its power and efficacy; a system of more than enough for everyone will replace a labor based economy; overall, just with those few changes, no prediction based on today's extant situation is likely to come even close. Life spans may be quite extended. And that's not even counting the unpredictable changes -- for instance, in 1900, even later, no one had any idea what silicon electronics would do for us. Near term major change tech includes ultracaps, fusion (20 years out, no doubt at all, lol), driverless vehicles, significantly better building materials, the erosion of superstition and the rise of generations focused on objective reality instead of imaginary friends.

if you're super wealthy and going to space are you going to take all the scumbags hanging out on the street with you?

Wealth only has meaning in an economy of scarcity. I strongly suspect that the latter is going away, which in turn will eliminate the former. It's just going to be a very rocky transition. For my part, I live far better than my parents did, expect to live longer, am healthier, and have far more cool stuff. And that's within a wealth-based economy. And the funny thing? My parents had considerably more money. :)

As for "scumbags", if people have enough resources, and the genome is cleaned up to eliminate stupidity, ugliness, weak critical thinking skills and greed, why would there be any?

Comment Re:Link to Asimov's actual article (Score 1) 385

Of the last twenty TED talks, this one has the most views by nearly a two to one margin over the runner up:

David Steindl-Rast: Want to be happy? Be grateful

I personally found it upbeat yet vacuous. He doesn't specify whether in the topology of his gratitude vector space, there's a primary node where all the gratitude goes in, and no gratitude comes out (presumably due to Hawking radiation, all that gratitude is re-emitted from the fearful symmetry as cosmic love). Asimov, of course, never held the majority standard for spiritual malaise.

I am honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great, spectacularly prolific writer and scientist, Dr. Isaac Asimov in that essentially functionless capacity. At an A.H.A. memorial service for my predecessor I said, âoeIsaac is up in Heaven now.â That was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. It rolled them in the aisles. Mirth! Several minutes had to pass before something resembling solemnity could be restored.

And yet ... the majority of the world's population continues to itch for any hint of a master honour roll for special snowflakes, no matter how shallowly disguised.

China did it. But yeah, it's really not a problem for first-worlders. Asimov didn't see that coming.

Brave New World was published in 1931. Asimov would have been thoroughly familiar with it. Nineteen Eighty-Four is not the only game in town concerning the control of the masses. First, we have all the drugs. Second, we do have laws forcing parents to turn their children over to the puppy mill of public education which--along with mass culture--promptly fills their heads full of all kinds of garbage, that only the most strenuous parental exertion can hope to mitigate.

So you can have a large family, but at some deep level, it's not entirely yours.

It amazes me the number of people attracted to the purity cult concerning the foods they eat (local/non-GMO/vegetarian/unprocessed), who barely blink over the obnoxiousness of the vast majority of the thousands of media impressions we soak in each day, the end result of which is that a billion people cared about two seconds of Janet Jackson's nipple.

We live in a society where it's a permanent, relentless battle to resist the frivolous.

We have this notion of "parental controls". We can keep our children ignorant of how sex functions in the real world (as opposed to the retail world), though this electronic chastity belt is ultimately futile if your child has half a brain. We can pretend we're filtering out violence. Yet most violence is social, and you can really only filter graphic depictions (unless sex is also involved, in which case social aggression is also considered graphic).

What you really want to filter out is not sex or violence, but stupidity, and for this the "parental control" widget has no back-lit chicklet engraved with an undiscoverable hieroglyphic rune. In 90% of MSM political coverage, they're not even trying, to put it kindly.

It was Asimov who postulated the discipline of psychohistory, in which the vacuous can be distinguished from the salient by the vigorous cranking of some vast algorithmic matrix. We've become very, very good at the vigorous cranking of vast algorithmic matrices, yet I have no channel where political figures never intrude on my consciousness unless in the act of making a substantive statement. I don't even want the operatic comedy of "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job!" Whatever.

Wake me up when it reaches the level of 'Heck of a job, Brownie' calls Bush inattentive 'fratboy'.

That could be riddled with a hundred falsehoods, distortions, and lies but at least it contains testable hypotheses, unlike 99% of the vapid crap that ever came out of a Bush photo op. Yet which one makes the headline news?

Hardly any wonder we're left feeling cynical about copulating with cause.

Point, Asimov.

Comment Re:Why on Slashdot? Here's one possibility? (Score 1) 237

> How long will it remain feasible to create new alt-coins, and what does this do to the existing alt-coin economy?

Nothing prevents me from creating an auction website either. But eBay will still be the dominant site because of the network effect.

Bitcoin has brand recognition, a whole ecosystem of software, apps, custom hardware, 35,000 merchants, 1.6 million online wallets + plus some number of PC wallets. A new altcoin can't reproduce that, it only has the default mining program that bitcoin started with 5 years ago. Because of the network effect, the most utility resides in the network with the most users.

The landscape is heavily tilted to the biggest digital currencies, and will remain that way.

Comment SDK (Score 1) 237

The older cryptocurrencies are open-source, so you just download the source code from the repository, make a few changes (like the mining algorithm and reward schedule) and send it off. Litecoin is literally made that way, they just tweaked a few parameters and substituted a different hashing function.

I'm mining Protoshares, because it actually brings something new, and not just tweaking the source code. A stream of business concepts will be forked off the prototype shares, with each one having shares issued in proportion to the holdings of protoshares. Think of it like a venture capital fund, except the capital is created by mining, rather than gathering piles of dollars from investors. Once issued, the forked shares will trade on their own chain. Their value will depend on the strength of the business ideas and execution, thus directing investment value when the various shares are sold for fiat currencies.

Comment Re:More important than just taxes (Score 1) 237

> BTC doesn't have the general acceptance as a store of value

Bitcoin was designed as a payment network, not a store of value. If you want to store value, trade your bitcoins for gold or real estate or shares of Disney stock. The Block Chain records only transactions, i.e. value in motion. If you want a "storage coin" then buy a bunch of assets, whatever is calculated to be a stable mix, and issue shares of that at a level comparable to dollars or euro.

That's pretty much what we do with any securitized asset or investment fund, but Wall Street imposes lots of friction on trading such things. A block chain database that recorded ownership of asset-backed coins would be as mobile as bitcoin, and a better store of value. The problem is how to verify transactions, if there is no incentive for "mining" like bitcoin has.

Comment Re:More important than just taxes (Score 1) 237

> I would add that ideally, the amount of Bitcoin needed to increase to reflect the amount of transactions being undertaken in Bitcoin. Bitcoin does not do this.

The amount of bitcoin value increased by a factor of 60 in 2013, is that not enough? It just did it mostly by increasing the value of each unit, instead of the number of units in the system. Since bitcoin was designed as a *payment network* and not a *long term store of value*, it doesn't matter what the value per unit is, software takes care of the conversion in real time. If the demand for bitcoin transaction volume goes down, so will the value per unit, by simple supply and demand, so there is always just the right amount. Money supply is number of units in circulation x value per unit. You are just used to the left hand term varying, but mathematically the right hand term can do the varying while the left one stays fixed.

Note: the number of bitcoins in circulation is about 12 million, and it's capped at 21 million, with a known rate of increase. So far the demand to use it has grown far faster than the number of units, but at some point demand will saturate and the value per unit will be more stable.

Comment Re: Why not Congress? (Score 1) 135

Sorry, we all give in the form of taxes which, according to the Constitution, should be used to "promote the general Welfare" not be given to the increasingly-rich who sequester such public resource. Donations to PACs does nothing to help those in need. "Faith-based" groups and other charities are totally inadequate to meet the requirements. Government is the only public service organization capable of handling it which is why the Constitution includes that very statement (read some history on 18th C Britain for enlightenment).

Comment Re:Good grief... (Score 1) 237

> What happens if a powerful government declares this software fork is the legal bitcoin software, not the current software?

The same thing that happens when they declare that file sharing is illegal - people will ignore them. The only way to change the software is to get a majority of the users and miners to accept the change. They won't do it if there is the potential for a central authority to debase the system by handing out extra coins, it would devalue the ones they already have. Those have value because they are scarce.

At best, a government can create it's own competing cryptocurrency. Canada is trying something like this with their MintChip stored value digital signature devices, but it has not been deployed yet in real use. Bitcoin has at least 1.6 million users just in the top two online wallets (Blockchain.info's MyWallet and Coinbase), plus an unknown number of other users that run it on their PC's, so it's way ahead on user count.

Comment What makes a currency (Score 1) 237

What rises to become a currency, neglecting government mandates, is usually the most easily traded and accepted good, whatever that is, because that is the most useful in trade. Russia is full of smokers and drinkers, so everyone knows they can trade cigarettes and vodka pretty much anywhere to somebody. Bitcoin is very easily traded, assuming you have internet access, and acceptance is rising, though still small. It really should be considered a transferable commodity at this point, since it has not reached general acceptance, even within the online community. But in a few years it may have wide enough acceptance to be considered a full currency.

Fiat is a Latin word meaning "Let this be", as in the Biblical "Fiat Lux" - let there be light. It's a command. So a fiat currency is one commanded to be a currency by some authority. But if the currency is badly managed, people will no longer accept it and look for something else. I'm old enough to remember the high inflation in the US around 1980, when everyone was looking for an "inflation hedge", i.e. something that didn't lose value at 1% a month.

Comment Re:Good grief... (Score 1) 237

> therefore all cryptocurrencies have no actual reason to have a value

This is incorrect, because you are only looking at the currency, and not the network it is part of.

The Bitcoin Network consists of software, apps, websites, a big database, relay nodes, and custom hardware. Collectively this network enables fast and cheap transfer of value from one place to another, with a number of other nice features. This has value to people because it is useful, and creates a demand to use it. Since the only way to use the network is by controlling a balance in the database (so that you can send it to someone else), those balances also have value. The balances, which are measured in units called "bitcoins" and "Satoshi" have no value in and of themselves, but then neither do the numbers in a bank's computer that represent your checking balance. It's only in the context of the whole Bitcoin Network, or the whole conventional banking network, that you can perform the useful function of sending value to another person.

The reason the total value of all bitcoins, which is $9.9 billion right now ( $812/BTC x 12.212M BTC) is much larger than all the other cryptocurrencies combined is it has by far the most developed network, and the largest number of merchants and users using the network. Thus it has the most demand and utility. Bitcoins can be spent for a large and increasing number of things, while Kanyecoins will have nearly nobody who uses it at first.

Metcalfe's Law says the value of a network rises as the square of the number of users, which means the largest network tends to dominate. Unless a new cryptocurrency has much better features than the original, bitcoins are likely to continue dominating the digital currency arena. That also adds to its value - bitcoins you buy now are likely to still have uses for some time into the future.

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