Wednesday, June 05, 2013

no wonder these bankster beehotches fear and despise bitcoin...,

outpost-of-freedom | I've been following the concepts of digital cash and encryption since I read the article in the August 1992 issue of Scientific American on "encrypted signatures." While I've only followed the Digitaliberty area for a few weeks, I can already see a number of points that do (and should!) strongly concern the average savvy individual:

1. How can we translate the freedom afforded by the Internet to ordinary life?

2. How can we keep the government from banning encryption, digital cash, and other systems that will improve our freedom?

A few months ago, I had a truly and quite literally "revolutionary" idea, and I jokingly called it "Assassination Politics": I speculated on the question of whether an organization could be set up to legally announce that it would be awarding a cash prize to somebody who correctly "predicted" the death of one of a list of violators of rights, usually either government employees, officeholders, or appointees. It could ask for anonymous contributions from the public, and individuals would be able send those contributions using digital cash.

I also speculated that using modern methods of public-key encryption and anonymous "digital cash," it would be possible to make such awards in such a way so that nobody knows who is getting awarded the money, only that the award is being given. Even the organization itself would have no information that could help the authorities find the person responsible for the prediction, let alone the one who caused the death.

It was not my intention to provide such a "tough nut to crack" by arguing the general case, claiming that a person who hires a hit man is not guilty of murder under libertarian principles. Obviously, the problem with the general case is that the victim may be totally innocent under libertarian principles, which would make the killing a crime, leading to the question of whether the person offering the money was himself guilty.

On the contrary; my speculation assumed that the "victim" is a government employee, presumably one who is not merely taking a paycheck of stolen tax dollars, but also is guilty of extra violations of rights beyond this. (Government agents responsible for the Ruby Ridge incident and Waco come to mind.) In receiving such money and in his various acts, he violates the "Non-aggression Principle" (NAP) and thus, presumably, any acts against him are not the initiation of force under libertarian principles.

The organization set up to manage such a system could, presumably, make up a list of people who had seriously violated the NAP, but who would not see justice in our courts due to the fact that their actions were done at the behest of the government. Associated with each name would be a dollar figure, the total amount of money the organization has received as a contribution, which is the amount they would give for correctly "predicting" the person's death, presumably naming the exact date. "Guessers" would formulate their "guess" into a file, encrypt it with the organization's public key, then transmit it to the organization, possibly using methods as untraceable as putting a floppy disk in an envelope and tossing it into a mailbox, but more likely either a cascade of encrypted anonymous remailers, or possibly public-access Internet locations, such as terminals at a local library, etc.

In order to prevent such a system from becoming simply a random unpaid lottery, in which people can randomly guess a name and date (hoping that lightning would strike, as it occasionally does), it would be necessary to deter such random guessing by requiring the "guessers" to include with their "guess" encrypted and untraceable "digital cash," in an amount sufficiently high to make random guessing impractical.

For example, if the target was, say, 50 years old and had a life expectancy of 30 years, or about 10,000 days, the amount of money required to register a guess must be at least 1/10,000th of the amount of the award. In practice, the amount required should be far higher, perhaps as much as 1/1000 of the amount, since you can assume that anybody making a guess would feel sufficiently confident of that guess to risk 1/1000th of his potential reward.

The digital cash would be placed inside the outer "encryption envelope," and could be decrypted using the organization's public key. The prediction itself (including name and date) would be itself in another encryption envelope inside the first one, but it would be encrypted using a key that is only known to the predictor himself. In this way, the organization could decrypt the outer envelope and find the digital cash, but they would have no idea what is being predicted in the innermost envelope, either the name or the date.

If, later, the "prediction" came true, the predictor would presumably send yet another encrypted "envelope" to the organization, containing the decryption key for the previous "prediction" envelope, plus a public key (despite its name, to be used only once!) to be used for encryption of digital cash used as payment for the award. The organization would apply the decryption key to the prediction envelope, discover that it works, then notice that the prediction included was fulfilled on the date stated. The predictor would be, therefore, entitled to the award. Nevertheless, even then nobody would actually know WHO he is!

It doesn't even know if the predictor had anything to do with the outcome of the prediction. If it received these files in the mail, in physical envelopes, which had no return address, it would have burned the envelopes before it studied their contents. The result is that even the active cooperation of the organization could not possibly help anyone, including the police, to locate the predictor.

Also included within this "prediction-fulfilled" encryption envelope would be unsigned (not-yet-valid) "digital cash," which would then be blindly signed by the organization's bank and subsequently encrypted using the public key included. (The public key could also be publicized, to allow members of the public to securely send their comments and, possibly, further grateful remuneration to the predictor, securely.) The resulting encrypted file could be published openly on the Internet, and it could then be decrypted by only one entity: The person who had made that original, accurate prediction. The result is that the recipient would be absolutely untraceable.

The digital cash is then processed by the recipient by "unbinding" it, a principle which is explained in far greater detail by the article in the August 1992 issue of Scientific American. The resulting digital cash is absolutely untraceable to its source. Fist tap Dale.


John Kurman said...

"encryption, digital cash, and other systems that will improve our freedom?" Kind of like how the trader bot algorithms were going to eliminate NASDAQ corruption and improve the average investor's freedom and level the playing field? Because that worked out so well...

CNu said...

Silk Road...,

John Kurman said...

This doesn't sound like something the sharks will take from the minnows?

CNu said...

Are we talking bitcoin or dead pool?

In the case of the former, I don't know how that could be accomplished, and believe me, I've experimented VERY vigorously to find ways in which that might be accomplished. In the case of the latter, nothing ever stopped Bill Gates from plunking down a few milli to have the head of Steve Jobs - yet it never happened.

John Kurman said...

Dead pool is, I think, rather silly. With very few exceptions, the whole point of assassination is to send a message. That message being "You know who we are. We can and will fuck with you, at our leisure, forever, so get with the program, bitches". Anonymous assassination in our narrowcast scenario, is counterproductive.

As to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, think in the context of the French Revolution and the inevitable (yes, inevitable, given the human species) Terror. Minnows become whales, and whales fodder for minnows. "Revolutions eat their own children", &c. Reference Jean-Michel Basquiat, the libertarian's hero, whose family gained it's fortunes by plundering the estate of a murdered aristo. I really do need to read up on the French Revolution this summer.

So, when you have an ubiquitous, vast, computational cloud, using it to generate a tiny little bolus like a bitcoin block seems rather silly, and lacking of vision, don't you think? Not when you can fuck with, well, basically, the entire networked world.

(I know nothing of bitcoin matters, but rather than hack bitcoin generation, shouldn't you be trying to hack the provenance of transaction fees? Isn't that where all the monies will be someday?)

CNu said...

I don't think you've meditated quite deeply enough on the potential grassroots applications of strong encryption and anonymous digital transactions. Bitcoin, strong encryption, and anonymization are all at this moment legitimate (within certain odd weapons export bounds).

Their brick and mortar analogs are the sine qua non of the entire global black market and many trillions of dollars of non-state actor riches. There is sufficient power in this troika of information and value-control equalizers to enable non-state actors to cause considerable and repeatable harm to state actors - and get away with it.

CNu said...

Posting was slow this week because I spent monday-wednesday in san francisco at a very interesting meeting addressing the topic of end point security and control. So, I state my case informed in no small part, by a very thorough knowledge of exactly how much and how ubiquitous the effort directed toward permanently and unilaterally eliminating any and all devices from the net which have the capacity for robust anonymity. Matter of fact, that's what I've been spending the lion's share of my subject matter acquisition cycles on for the past three years. Because I've made it a personal point of focus, at this point, I'd estimate I'm a good 3-5 years ahead of the industry expert curve in this subject domain.

John Kurman said...

Not deeply enough? Undoubtedly so. I merely point out how depressingly often these so-called pro-democracy grassroots movements are either suborned by powerful interests or devolve into thuggery. It's a 9,000 year old trend. Piling on what I perceive as bells and whistles will not turn this fundamental bug into a feature.

CNu said...

While I'll grant your species fundamental deuterostome defects, don't you think that reducing the current state of our extended phenotype to "bells and whistles" is a bit hyperbolic? (don't get heated or sidetracked over the Dawkins reference)

I humbly refer you to "first principles" shaping and informing the subrealist oeuvre;

John Kurman said...

Perhaps the Matrix was a bad choice. After all, smart cookies may be playing at Superman flipping people off in the virtuality, but meanwhiles the reality is they are stuck in a tube with wires in the brain and a hose up their ass, being fed shit from a hose from the neighboring tube, and so on. Or, in my analogy, gestural Kinect commands manipulate radio buttons in a wireless web page controlling a 1970s electrical glass teletypewriter in turn operating a 1920s chunky button and knife switch panel, in turn commanding a 1850s power lever and ratchet handle locomotive cab, in turn operating a wooden cog and millstone contraption that whips, goads, and flails serfs and slaves with chains and cudgels, goading them to work in the mines and make electricity for... In other words, Landauer's Principle cannot be escaped. Shock of the Old, and all that, old salt. Sorry, dude, no more time to play. Mebbe later.

CNu said...

lol, yeah dood, don't you need to be heating and molding some glass or something?