[NetBehaviour] arts blockchain and DAOWO

Aditya Mandayam mandayam at cs.stanford.edu
Sat Dec 9 20:59:41 CET 2017


re: "the logic of war and defence at the heart of cryptocultures", while I
understand where this is coming from, something seemed to me to be a tad
displaced.

In the abstract to *The Byzantine Generals Problem
<https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/publication/byzantine-generals-problem/>
*(Lamport
et al 1982), Leslie Lamport writes about how he "long felt that, because it
was posed as a cute problem about philosophers seated around a table,
Dijkstra’s dining philosopher’s problem received much more attention than
it deserves." He adds: "The popularity of the dining philosophers problem
taught me that the best way to attract attention to a problem is to present
it in terms of a story."

Note how he adds that the problem in question (one from distributed
computing) was sometimes called the "Chinese Generals Problem", and he
nearly ended up calling it the "Albanian Generals Problem" because "at the
time, Albania was a completely closed society, and I felt it unlikely that
there would be any Albanians around to object". Jack Goldberg was "smart
enough to realize that there were Albanians in the world outside Albania,
and Albania might not always be a black hole, so he suggested that I find
another name".

The paper itself starts off stating: "Reliable computer systems must handle
malfunctioning components that give conflicting information to different
parts of the system. This situation can be expressed abstractly in terms of
a group of generals of the Byzantine army camped with their troops around
an enemy city."

The goal of spinning a narrative around an abstract and somewhat esoteric
problem in distributed computing was to attract attention to it. Lamport et
al were following the lead of the inimitable Edsgar W. Dijkstra himself,
who certainly imbued his research with charisma and wit.

The BGP is a fiction. It isn't a story of Byzantine war, or Byzantine
defence. It has nothing to do with Byzantium, or Constantine I, or the
Ottoman Empire. It has as much to do with the above than it has to do
with Enver Hoxha, the erstwhile communist dictator of Albania (i.e.,
nothing).

What would interest me is a discussion around Bitcoin and the notion of
personal wealth. By this I mean the realization and subsequent reclamation
of personhood; of one's body, one's *persona*, one's very own *corpora *being
subjected to endless surveillance in the pursuit of - to paraphrase John
Lanchester in the LRB
<https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n16/john-lanchester/you-are-the-product> - the
"profoundly bathetic" goal of serving you ads.

Maciej Ceglowski, the eccentric and eloquent founder of the bookmarking
website Pinboard.in has compared this data deluge to radioactive waste in
his funny and prescient talk, *Haunted by Data
<http://idlewords.com/talks/haunted_by_data.htm> *(Ceglowski 2015).
Radioactive waste management, as Ceglowski puts it, has similar properties
to data collection because "No one knows what will become of sites like
Twitter in five years or ten. But the data those sites own will retain the
power to hurt for decades."

Another angle of interest is a well-known phenomenon within technology
circles (and a personal pet obsession of mine) is cutting-edge military
research ending up in consumer tech. We all know this, of course. The
Internet was ARPAnet, the CIA had drones long before anyone else did, and
DARPA kickstarted robocars with their *Grand Challenge
<http://archive.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/> *(of which I was a tiny part).
Bitcoin stands alone in this regard. Nakamoto, whoever they may be -
despite reports that NSA has, through stylometric analysis, deduced their
identity (identities) - acted alone, coagulating decades of research with
an elegant (and highly readable) solution to the BGP. One of the more
surprising aspects to those more technically inclined amongst us is finding
out that *Nakamoto used Windows* * - *a virtual no-no in academia, and rare
amongst technologists. An approach unlike any other, as Arvind Narayanan
and Jeremy Clark detail in their excellent piecemeal analysis of Bitcoin's
heritage, Bitcoin's Academic Pedigree
<http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=3136559> (Narayanan & Clark, 2017). I
quote: "Its inventor, the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, was an academic
outsider, and bitcoin bears no resemblance to earlier academic proposals."

Apologies for the length of this reply. I'd be keen on furthering the
conversation in a new thread, or otherwise.

- Adi

On Sat, Dec 2, 2017 at 1:36 PM, ruth catlow <ruth.catlow at furtherfield.org>
wrote:

> On 30/11/17 02:23, Patrick Lichty wrote:
>
> So, in conversation with Ruth, I have been researching zero-emissions
> solar mining, and where I am having a moment of dissonance is the current
> logatithmic curve of Bitcoin with computation. I am wondering if there is a
> corresponding energy curve with this valuation spike.
>
> Oh, that's an interesting question.
> I would imagine that the value of Bitcoin (against fiat currencies), like
> any commodity, would go up when people buy it and then don't spend it or
> trade it. In which case a rise in value might signify a rise in purchasing
> transactions - but not necessarily a rise in overall transactions.
>
> I can't see how ledger propagation would have any effect on this.
>
> hmmm
>
> :)R
>
>
> Secondly, I have noticed that the valuation curve has rece3ntly gotten
> really weird. Serious momentary downward spikes. I’m not curious about this
> economically, I’m more interested technically. What happens with this?  I
> was wondering if ledger propagation preventing serious spikes like this.
>
> Hmmmm….
>
> Also, Because Cryptokitties,
>
>
>
> *From:* NetBehaviour [mailto:netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org
> <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org>] *On Behalf Of *ruth catlow
> *Sent:* Sunday, November 26, 2017 7:07 PM
> *To:* netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org
> *Subject:* Re: [NetBehaviour] arts blockchain and DAOWO
>
>
>
> Hello Rob
>
> On 25/11/17 05:21 AM, ruth catlow wrote:
>
> - Environmental and energy costs – more on this soon but I have been
> looking at Faircoin – proof of cooperation and I wonder if the
> clear-as-daylight, explicit mapping of environmental harm onto
> crypto-currency trading could provide the impetus for a global move to 100%
> renewables and zero carbon emissions.
>
>
> Decred's experiments in governance (and energy efficiency...) are more
> reflexive and to my mind sounder than Faircoin's for reasons I discuss
> indirectly in "Blockchain Poetics" -
>
> https://www.decred.org/
>
> Please could you spell it out!?
> :)R
>
>
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