all the people who were active in Crypto looked around and realized there were not many of us. The friends we had convinced in the last holiday did not talk to us anymore. They had stopped checking their Coinbase accounts. The tide had come from the beach. Tokens and blockchains should change the world; how did it happen that nobody used them?
Most people still do not use them . In this regard, many crypto projects have succeeded admirably. The attractiveness of the cryptocurrency is understood by many as freedom from human fallibility. There is no central banker who plays politics with the money supply. There is no lawyer overseeing the contract. Sometimes it feels like crypto developers have taken over the skunk’s defense mechanism. It works, they manage to keep people away.
Some now recognize the need for human users, the so-called “social layer” of Bitcoin and other crypto networks. This human component is still considered the weakest link. I write to suggest that the human component of Crypto is the strongest connection. For the developers of crypto networks, it is a question of how to attract the right users, how to defend themselves against attackers (the wrong users). Contrary to what you might hear on Twitter, demographic and ideologies of users play a role in evaluating a krypton network. You are the ultimate line of defense and the ultimate decision maker on direction and narrative.
What Ethereum Did Right
No one in Crypto is allowed to say “Code is law” since the collapse of the DAO. with a straight face. The DAO was a decentralized venture capital fund that was willfully claiming pure code governance and then imploding when someone found a gap. Ethereum, a crypto-protocol based on The DAO, triggered this fiasco with a hard fork and returned the general ledger of the transactions to the moment before the catastrophe. Dissenters of this social intervention continued the original, unadulterated protocol of Ethereum and called it Ethereum Classic. For the so-called “bitcoin maximalists”, the DAO fork is a symbol of Ethereum’s reliance on trust and thus of its weakness.
So there is irony in the maximum enthusiasm of maximalists for narrative that describes the resilience of Bitcoin on a social level. The story is that in the case of a security flaw, the Bitcoin community of developers, investors, miners, and users is the ultimate defense. We, the community of Bitcoin, have the opportunity to interlock the protocol ̵
1; to transfer our investment in time, capital and computing power to a new version of Bitcoin. It is our collective commitment to a minimized monetary system that makes Bitcoin strong. (Revelation: I hold Bitcoin and Ether.)
Even this narrative implies trust – in the people who make up this crowd. In the past, Bitcoin core developers, who maintain the dominant client software of the Bitcoin network, have also influenced and shaped the Bitcoin roadmap and the history of use cases. The least confidence of Ethereum is different, because there is a publicly accessible leadership group whose word is heavily drunk. In both models, the social layer is preserved. When they said goodbye to The DAO, the leaders of Ethereum had to persuade a community to come along.
One can not believe the wisdom of the crowd and disregard its ability to see through an illegitimate power-grabbing apparatus orchestrated from outside. When people criticize Ethereum or Bitcoin, they really criticize that crowd, blaming them for falling into false narratives.
How do you protect Bitcoin’s codebase?
In September, Bitcoin core developers uncovered a vulnerability and disclosed it, allowing an attacker to crash the Bitcoin network. This vulnerability was discovered in March 2017 with Bitcoin Core 0.14. It stayed there for 18 months until it was discovered.
There is no doubt that Bitcoin Core attracts some of the best and brightest developers in the world, but they are fallible and some of them are pseudonyms. Could a public actor working on a pseudonym produce code good enough to be included in the Bitcoin protocol? Could he or she get into another, undiscovered vulnerability to later exploitation? The answer is undoubtedly yes, it is possible, and it would be naive to believe otherwise. (I doubt Bitcoin core developers themselves are so naive.)
Why has no government yet attempted to reduce Bitcoin by exploiting such weakness? Could it be that governments and other powerful potential attackers are at least tolerant, if not friendly, of Bitcoin’s continued growth? In Bitcoin culture, there is a strong narrative of crypto that persists against hostility. Is this story even real?
The Social Layer is the Key to the Success of Krypto
Some argue that sexism and racism play no part in Bitcoin . They do. Bitcoin staff should think carefully about the books we recommend and about the words we write and speak. If your social class is full of assholes, your network is vulnerable. Not all hacks are technical. Societies can also be hacked with bad or unsafe ideas. (There are more and more examples outside of Crypto.)
Not all whitepapers are as elegant as Bitcoin’s white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto. Many cover more than 50 pages and cover long sections of the presentation of various potential attacks and how the internal crypto-economic system of incentives and penalties of the network would make them bootless. They remind me of the huge digital fortresses my eight-year-old son builds in Minecraft and is stuffed with trapdoors and turrets.
I love my son (and his Minecraft creations), but the question that both he and the developers of Kryptos may be asking is to ask, why would anyone want to enter, let alone attack, this forbidden stronghold? Who will enter with talents, ETH or gold? If you focus on the user, do not shave if the user is the ultimate security measure. I do not suggest that security should be a reflection, but maybe a network should be set up to attract people rather than exclude them.
The author thanks Tadge Dryja and Emin Gün Sirer, who gave him feedback on some of the ideas in this article.