Since the year and #BitcoinBowl campaign are over I wanted to share my "year end" summary of Bitcoin in 2014
I'm Tony Sakich from BitPay and I have been an active member of the community for a while, but I decided it's time that I increase my presence publicly so I wanted to give my opinion (not BitPay's) about what happened this year. Also please follow me on Twitter @TonySwish Bitcoin in 2014: - The biggest story in mainstream media is that the price drop meant it was a bad investment, I think it was a result of the "get rich quick" crowd slowly abandoning bitcoin. This isn't good or bad, it's just another step in the growth. This isn't the biggest story in the bitcoin industry though.
The shady players in the scene are being weeded out (Mt. Gox is the obvious one) and new startups by professionals are emerging. There will still be some unscrupulous companies but overall things are leaving 2014 better than they came in.
Bitcoin is also significantly easier to buy for Americans than it has ever been with TruCoin and Circle emerging to make getting bitcoin easier than ever.
Companies representing specific pieces of the technology are emerging, they will continue to introduce positive developments to improve the ecosystem.
Altcoin explosion continued, the only ones I think (financially) matter are Ethereum and possibly Darkcoin for a variety of reasons. No matter what happens, it is going to be tough to replace Bitcoin's place at the top.
Quietly, Bitcoin has been introduced into POS (EDIT: Point of sale) services like NCR Silver, VisualTouch and SoftTouch which gives many brick-and-mortar business future access to easily accept it.
Companies like ChangeTip continue to emerge to give new applications for Bitcoin that will get new users involved. To say I'm a fan of ChangeTip is an understatement. Victoria, Nick, Charles and everyone at ChangeTip are doing great things and creating the most innovative use of social media I have seen.
Haters gonna hate.
Finally, "To The Moon!" Is a wonderful phrase, but it's important to realize that it took humanity between 5 and 6 million years to get to the moon, this won't happen overnight but slow and steady improvement of the user experience and infrastructure will get us there.
2015 PREDICTION: My sole prediction of 2015 is that I will do everything I can to be a bigger voice in this community. I tend to only make predictions I can control. Edit: Clarified my stance on altcoins as some redditors rightfully called me out.
Hello potential research collaborator! Rumour has it that you, a researcher or manager of researchers, are interested in joint research with the Ethereum Foundation. Below are the primary topics the Foundation will be thinking about for the next 2-3 years. If you, like us, enjoy the prospect of thinking about one or more of these topics for the majority of your waking hours, do get in touch. The Foundation does have money to pay the salaries/stipend of those undertaking high-value research. We have topics in both pure research and applied research. The Foundation as well as the larger Ethereum community seek help on both. Typical outputs from researchers are: peer-reviewed academic papers, technical reports, and/or implementations (prototypes as well as production-ready). Questions in Fundamental Research Q1: Can we create a theory of cryptoeconomic mechanisms? There are certain patterns that are often used in cryptoeconomic mechanisms. These can be studied in the abstract independently of any specific use case. Security deposits (see also proof of stake) How do we model capital lockup costs? Dual-use of security deposits Challenge-response games (one group of actors is given the opportunity to submit evidence that fact X is false, and if no one submits evidence within some period of time, then X is assumed to be true). See also challenge-response authentication. Channels State channels How do we minimize the vulnerability of challenge-response games and channels to liveness or censorship faults of the underlying blockchain? Escalation games Cross-chain interoperability (see the R3 interoperability paper ) Relays Hash timelock atomic swaps Q2: What is the role of cryptoeconomics in distributed systems? What is the role of economics in cryptography? Can we formalize how algorithmic incentives (“cryptoeconomics”) can enhance information security? Modeling behavior of participants in mechanisms Simple (crash) faults Byzantine faults (arbitrary) Byzantine-Altruistic-Rational (BAR) model Uncoordinated majority (e.g., as in selfish mining) Coordinated choice Bribing attacker (as in P+epsilon attacks or iceman) Behavioral economics models (prospect theory, endowment effect, loss aversion, morality, etc.) Complex game-theoretic interactions Blackmail Quantifying cooperative interactions among agents (e.g. dynamic coalition formation) Evolution and enforcements of group norms Q3: How do distributed systems influence current economics? On net, when and how much does decentralization lower transaction costs? No obvious answer. Decentralization _decreases_transaction costs because of: Reduced number of counterparties and reduced need for building trust Yet decentralization increases transaction costs because of: increased technical overhead, Decreased usability, increased responsibility. Are Transaction costs = transaction fees + coordination costs? Q4: Within game-theory, can we quantify coordination costs? for players running a particular protocol for players executing a particular strategy Q5: What are ways we can manipulate (e.g., guarantee/minimize) coordination costs? For example, we can reduce risk by increasing coordination costs. Coordination costs are costs from multiple-agents coordinating. For example: Discovering potential peers, agreeing on computing coalition strategies, synchronization required for execution, costs of proving to the coalition that players followed coalition strategies, cost of getting rid of individual incentives to deviate Q6: What protocols have better fault attribution? A protocol fault is uniquely attributable if there is evidence that could be used to umambiguously convince any observer which actor caused the protocol fault. If a fault is non-uniquely-attributable, the blame for the fault can often at least be narrowed down to within N specific actors. Fault attributability in various consensus algorithms Chain-based (synchronous) consensus Partially synchronous consensus (see minimal slashing conditions) Common coins in asynchronous consensus Attributability of censorship or liveness faults. Translating fault attributions into penalties Shapley values Q7: What are decentralization’s fundamental limits? Building on hundreds of impossibility results. E.g., 1 and 2, or even fundamental limits from other areas of computer science. What centralized protocols can be decentralized (while preserving guarantees)? At what cost in protocol overhead? Are there limits to scalability? For Bitcoin: On Scaling Decentralized Blockchains Only because of the requirement for shared state? At what cost in incentivization? What are the limits to incentivization? Limits to attribution Limits to mechanism budgets With how much security (against coordinated choice, trusted majority required)? Limits to fault tolerance e.g. in objective protocols and subjective protocols Objectives in Applied Research Also knows as Pasteur’s Quadrant. Right now our primary topics in applied research are: plasma, sharding, and Casper.
Base Layer (core protocols) 1.1 Plasma and Sharding [49%] Goal: Allow Ethereum transaction capacity to scale to better than linear with computational capacity of the n nodes.
Sharding FAQ Stateless clients State channels Plasma implementation Data availability proofs [65%] A note on data availability and erasure coding Effective state-space partitioning / Cross-shard communication [15%] Vitalik’s R3 paper, particularly Section “scalability” (p20-30). The whole paper also has a three-page executive summary. High-Level-Languages [20%] Topic: Developing a language that knows to send the cross-shard asynchronous messages whenever contracts are located on different shards. Topic: Applying prior theory from multicore CPUs/parallel threading to sharding. 1.2 Proof of Stake [70% complete] Goal: Fully transition Ethereum from Proof-of-work to Proof-of-stake. Casper the Friendly Finality Gadget Cryptocurrencies without Proof of Work Proof of stake FAQ Economic Incentive analysis [49%] Ouroboros: A Provably Secure Proof-of-Stake Blockchain Protocol Minimum Slashing Conditions Slasher Ghost, and Other Developments in Proof of Stake Least Authority Performs Incentive Analysis For Ethereum Demystifying incentives in the consensus computer On Stake Safety Under Dynamic Validator Sets Delegation protocols (or Voting Pool for PoS) [20%] Using trusted hardware Formal Verification [45%] Formal methods on some PoS stuff A mechanized safety proof with dynamic validators Formal methods on another Casper Securify.ch Testing and Implementation [20%] History of Casper: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 Stage 1 CASPER contract and JSON RPC demo 1.3 Protocol Economics [50%] Goal: Increase economic incentive confluence in all aspects of the Ethereum protocol. Gas Limit Policy / state-resource pricing A theory of Blockchain Resoure Pricing [not ready for release; ask Virgil for link to pre-release] Topic: Validatominer economic policy—how much should we pay out? 1.4 Stategies for efficaciously hardforking for upgrades [40%] Goal: Smart-contracts are new territory and the best ideas in the space remain undiscovered. When we discover them, we must be able to roll them out gracefully. Hard Forks, Soft Forks, Defaults and Coercion The beautiful Vlad Zamfir on Soft forks, hard forks, and the Ethereum Social Contract Topic: Hardforking the EVM 1.5 Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) upgrades and optimization [100%] Goal: Have a fast, efficient virtual machine optimized for processing cryptographic operations and smart-contracts. Update: Solved! We’re moving to eWASM!
Layer 2 2.1 On-chain Random Number Generation [63%] Goal: This is an important special-case necessary for many applications. We wish to solve it.
Implementation Ethereum’s RANDAO A candidate alternative design from Vitalik Bitcoin Beacon On Bitcoin as a public randomness source NIST Randomness Beacon Bitcoin Beacon — Princeton Bitcoin seminar final project Tor project’s attempt at the same. 2.2 Privacy [40%] Goal: Allow apps to benefit from the transparency of blockchain-execution while preserving author privacy and the confidentiality of zer data. One solution, among several, is homomorphic encryption. General: Privacy on the Blockchain Mixers [30%] Bitcoin mixing remains an unsolved problem. As what’s possible in Ethereum is a strict superset of Bitcoin, solving for either case is sufficient. Incentivized Mixing? Princeton Bitcoin course: Anonymity (Lecture 6) An Empirical Analysis of Linkability in the Monero Blockchain CoinParty: Secure Multi-Party Mixing of Bitcoins Secure and Anonymous Decentralized Bitcoin Mixing Decentralized Mixer based on RingSignature Laundromat: Mixing via ring signatures Voting [10%] A Smart Contract for Boardroom Voting with Maximum Voter Privacy Zero knowlege proofs [30%] ZK-Snarks Other Confidential assets 2.3 Decentralized exchanges [50%] Goal: We wish to minimize the necessity of trusted third parties in currency exchanges. Atomic swap on-chain decentralized exchanges mkr market etherdelta 2.4 High-level-languages (HLLs) [40%] Goal: Coding contracts (especially secure ones!) is hard. It should be easier. Please help us. Our packet for recruiting PLT researchers. Languages Solidity Viper Pact Composing contrats: an adventure in finanial engineering Ivy Bamboo functional-solidity-language Pax Codex Hammurabi Project in Wolfram Language Formal Verification of HLLs [15%] Formal Certification of a Compiler Back-end or: Programming a Compiler with a Proof Assistant Short Paper: Formal Verification of Smart Contracts Other programming language techniques to analyse smart contracts Oyente, a symbolic execution based analyser for smart contracts Using Oyente to optimize smart contracts Defensive programming [30%] Step by Step Towards Creating a Safe Smart Contract: Lessons and Insights from a Cryptocurrency Lab A Programmer’s Guide to Ethereum and Serpent A survey of attacks on Ethereum smart contracts Thinking About Smart Contract Security Ethereum Contract Security Techniques and Tips 2.5 Better Tokens, better token sales Goal: Understand how to design and manipulate tokens for specific properties, particularly paying attention to better ICOs Vitalik on his Interactive Coin Offering The MiniMe/ERC223 talk from DEVCON3 An Optimal ICO mechanism Better ICOs category on ethresear.ch All about DAICOs Appendix Ethereum’s old list of open problems. Relevant Conferences Research communities whose interests intersect with Ethereum’s research include (in alphabetical order, non-exhaustive): Algorithmic Game Theory. ACM Conference on Economics and Computation, Conference on Web and Internet Economics, Symposium on Algorithmic Game Theory, International Conference on Game Theory Blockchain. Annual Blockchain Summit, Coinfest, Consensus, Internet of Things World, Workshop on Bitcoin and Blockchain Research Computer Security. ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, IEEE Computer Security Foundations Symposium, USENIX Security Symposium Cryptography. CRYPTO (International Association for Cryptologic Research), EUROCRYPT (Annual International Conference on the Theory and Applications of Cryptographic Techniques) Distributed Computation. ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing, ACM Symposium on Parallelism in Algorithms and Architectures Multi-Agent Systems. International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Sytems, AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence http://notes.eth.sg/s/rkxpeG0ff
I am a partner in a new restaurant group that will rolling out a few locations of small sandwhich style shops in the Chicagoland area next year. I am a huge fan of Bitcoin and would like to offer Bitcoin payment at our sites. Right now we are putting together budgets and I said I would research POS solutions. The two other partners in the group have no idea what Bitcoin is and could care less as long as it's not more expensive to offer it. These are small 1500 square foot sites with only a couple employees so there is no need for an extravagant and expensive restaurant POS system. There will only be one location to checkout and no servers. I am aware of the tablet style solution that is common that sites like Bitpay offer but personally I don't like this idea. I know there will be a strong contingent of people that will disagree but something like this is not for us. Between training employees, dead tablets, spilled drinks I just don't see it fitting well in the long run. I came across this solution from SoftTouch which I will investigate further but it seems like it may be a little too much for what we need and therefore probably costly. http://www.coindesk.com/softtouch-pos-helps-restaurants-turn-bitcoins-dollars/ http://www.softtouchpos.com/ I also came across this idea which is a little more of what I was thinking. https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Casascius_Bitcoin_POS_system The problem is the price of XBT on this wiki is $5.00 which dates it and I couldn't find anything else on it. Does anyone know of any other POS systems that integrate Bitcoin? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks guys PS... I left just enough in the design to hopefully install a Bitcoin ATM if they ever become available in the US.
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