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Comment Re:Most of us still do not take it seriously (Score 1) 347

You just need to obtain confidence that your counterparty is not double spending in some manner

Which is not secure, at least not under the definition of security that is commonly used in digital cash.

For example, your counterparty may have some secure hardware that is capable of remote attestation.

EMV (chip-n-pin) cards have used them for many years

These are usually used in conjunction with an online payment processor, which changes the security model in fundamental ways. The security goal of these cards is to prevent unauthorized use of legitimate credentials; the legitimate user of those credentials is not the adversary. With double-spending, the legitimate user of the card is the adversary.

breaking the hardware? Doesn't happen

Faking the hardware can happen and Bitcoin will only stop it if you are online. What are you going to do to stop someone from producing a card that looks just like the "real thing" but which does not actually stop them from double spending? If you are going to introduce a central authority that issues these cards, why would you even bother with Bitcoin? You can get a more secure digital cash protocol that uses a central authority to issue the currency units, which actually supports secure offline transactions (regardless of the hardware someone uses).

Comment Most of us still do not take it seriously (Score 1) 347

  1. We already have anonymous, hard-to-control ways to give people money: we can hand them money. That is why the US government requires large cash transactions to be automatically reported. There is no reason the same could not be done with Bitcoin: sure, you might get away with some illegal Bitcoin transactions, but by using Bitcoin you are basically putting a giant neon sign on your forehead that says, "I am trying to avoid mainstream ways of paying for things!"
  2. Bitcoin cannot support secure offline payments. That makes it all the more difficult to hide the fact that you are using Bitcoin, unlike using paper money.
  3. At the exchange rate of Bitcoin, a government could simply buy all the currency in the system and ruin it for everyone. It would take a couple hundred million dollars, which is barely blip on the radar compared to the budget of a typical industrialized nation. You would not need to buy all the currency, either; just buying a significant fraction of it would destabilize prices and drive people away.
  4. The demand for Bitcoin is predicated on the existence of exchanges that allow Bitcoin to be traded for fiat currencies. Those exchanges are easy targets for a government wishing to ban Bitcoin within its borders. There is no reason to think that this situation will ever change: people still need to pay their taxes and spend money offline, and Bitcoin does not allow them to do either of those things.
  5. Serious cryptography researchers in the 80s and 90s showed the world how to make digital cash systems that do not suffer from any of the above problems. We should be talking about how to deploy those systems, rather than continuing to go astray with Bitcoin.

Comment Re:Sadly (Score 5, Informative) 185

how important it was to stay out of the fucking 1980's with IT equipment that serves critical functions

Talk about blanket statements. I suspect that there is quite a bit of 1980s IT equipment in your life that you are not even aware of.

The problem is not what decade the equipment comes from, it is whether or not the equipment meets its requirements. If equipment from the 1980s is continuing to meet the requirements that governments face today, then there is no reason to spend enormous amounts of tax money to replace that equipment unless doing so will pay for itself before the next upgrade. Unfortunately, there are few cases where such upgrades actually do pay for themselves, so in terms of what is best to do with tax dollars, upgrading old equipment that continues to function as needed is questionable.

Now, if the equipment is not working, then it is time to replace it. The real problem is that government contracts are not typically given to companies deemed best for the job, and so these situations arise. Contracts are awarded to companies that bid low and to companies that are well-connected, even when better companies are available.

Comment Re:270 mile range seems good (Score 2) 525

"270 mile range sounds fantastic (my car only gets 210 miles to a tank)." You should get a better car. I drive a VW TDI, and on a half tank (somewhere between 12 and 13 gallons) I can do at least 200 miles -- and I do not exactly drive in a way that maximizes fuel efficiency. Diesel cars sound a bit different and smell a bit odd after short trips, but even with higher-priced fuel you are going to see a cost advantage to diesel (maintenance is a bit pricier too, but even factoring that in you'll have a cost advantage).

What I really want, though, is to take that diesel engine and plug it into an electric motor, like a railroad locomotive. Charge the battery when I can, get 400+ miles on a tank of diesel otherwise (probably even more, though, since the diesel engine could maintain its optimal RPM while generating electric power). I'd sacrifice my trunk space for it if I had to.

Comment Re:Make the penalties lighter? (Score 1) 154

Right now a hacker can cause billions in damages


pull potentially millions of dollars in ill-gotten loot


He broke the law

...and the law can never be unjust. It's the law, right?

Swartz who was planning to distribute

Oh Lord no! He was planning to distribute academic papers to people! The potential damage is unthinkable! PEOPLE MIGHT LEARN!

Comment Re:Sorry, no (Score 3, Informative) 841

"the New York Times. They don't lie" I think there is a bit of misplaced faith here. I would be wary of trusting *any* American news source, even one as famous as the New York Times.

Aside from potential dishonesty, the NYT employs reporters who routinely fail to have experts check their statements. Just read through the "Technology" section if you want examples (the most extreme examples can be found there). Like most American media, the NYT is desperate to get their story out there before their competitors; double checking facts and ensuring accurate statements are secondary objectives in the best case.

Comment Re:Charging authors is not much better... (Score 1) 61

Even if the publishers were charities (which they aren't) there are still costs that still have to be covered.

Name those costs. Universities already archive scientific journals as a service, peer review is generally done by unpaid volunteers, editing is generally done by unpaid volunteers, and we know how to use peer to peer networks to distribute large amounts of data without paying a lot for bandwidth (imagine the major universities acting as seeds for bittorrent archives of each years' collection of published journal articles). So what cost do you think remains to be paid here?

Charging authors doesn't mean that it comes out of the authors personal pockets - generally, the money comes from the university, or more likely, from the funding body that paid for the research to take place.

In other words, we still have some of the problems that open access should solve. While we no longer have the issue of individuals being unable to access knowledge, we are still saying that research can only be done by those with university affiliations or who are wealthy.

Comment Charging authors is not much better... (Score 3, Insightful) 61

Charging authors to publish is not much better than charging people to read the articles. What we truly need is a system that is paid for by universities, cooperatively, that allows anyone to submit a paper and allows anyone to download as many or as few papers as they would like.

Comment Re:easy solution (Score 1) 119

It's not as simple as that. I saw a talk by a researcher a few months ago who discovered that Twitter posts could be used to predict spikes in crime. Basically, the example he demonstrated went something like this: when a lot of people are posting messages about being stuck in traffic, the probability of hit-and-run accidents increases. The researcher conjectured that the reason for this phenomenon was that drivers were taking detours, and that the combination of running late and being on an unfamiliar route increased the likelihood of a collision (and by extension, of a hit-and-run). He then went on to show a similar analysis for predicting drug crimes, and then one that predicted terrorist attacks in Iraq.

So it is not just that people who engage in protests will leak data. Someone working at a deli where activists like to meet might post a comment to the effect of, "A bunch of weirdo hippies just walked in the door and they are not buying anything!" If you had a lot of people making Twitter posts that indicated that activist groups were holding meetings of increasing size and frequency, you could probably conclude that a major protest is being planned.

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