Babbage and his friends, in the 1830s, start conceiving of this idea called a general purpose state machine. And the reason why that was such a big deal is because you no longer had to build a special purpose machine to do a compute that you needed. You could just program this general purpose machine to do it. But the act of programming was the act of giving this thing instructions manually by pressing buttons or turning a dial or pulling a lever. And also, the big leap there is that now the act of programming or the act of building and designing a special purpose state machine to do your computation became an abstract idea.

  • And how could anybody trust a public ledger of transactions stored online in a world where every other day news breaks of yet another cyberattack?
  • So at some point in the time scale of human beings, we started experimenting with different protocols for doing that, but where we came from was effectively a proof of power protocol.
  • Winning miners only receive their reward of new cryptocurrency after other participants in the network verify that the data being added to the chain is correct and valid.
  • We should use rank to do it.” Proof of stake is effectively proof of rank.
  • In the “proof-of-stake” system, ether owners will lock up set amounts of their coins to check new records on the blockchain, earning new coins on top of their “staked” crypto.
  • Mining rigs for the Ethereum and Zilliqa cryptocurrencies at the Evobits crypto farm in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, on Jan. 22, 2021.

Most blockchains, including bitcoin’s, devour large amounts of energy, sparking criticism from some investors and environmentalists. Miners compete to process the new block. Crypto miners compete to be the first to solve a complex math problem. By showing proof that they’ve undertaken the computational work—referred to as a hash—earns the miner the right to process the block of transactions. Users buy and sell cryptocurrency, and the data from these transactions are pooled into a block.

I think that when you pull back the thread on how many complex academic and real world things are colliding here to understand the magnitude of all of it coming together, you just have to have some expertise in a whole lot of different domains to get it. So Greg Foss reaches out to you, you then go on Twitter and you immediately captured a really large following. A lot of people, myself included, battling with you over some of the choice of words that you used. But you know what, when I look at how much your thesis has evolved through the time that you’ve been at MIT writing this, I can see, Jason, that you took a lot of the things that people were saying to heart and really wanted to understand other people’s vantage point. You weren’t battling with them via ego, you were battling with them intellectually to try to understand their point of view. And I think people that are listening to this conversation can see that evolution in your writing and your thesis that you’ve developed.

It’s honey, everyone wants their honey. It’s literally a honey pot security problem. Honey bees have stingers, but those stingers don’t protect the individual honeybee. When a honey bee stings something, they will sink that thing so deep in their skin that, because of how it’s designed, the only way to get that thing to detach from the person they sting is to disembowel themselves and then they die. So a stinger on a honeybee is not designed to protect the honeybee, it’s not designed for self-defense.

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You have people who have the means, who have physical powers, fully inclusive, everyone has access to watts. Physical power is physically decentralized. You can pull watts out of the air, the wind, out of the water, out of natural gas, out of solar. So this power’s available everywhere exogenously, systemically exogenously, so there’s no way that you can code a systemically exploitable piece of software that prevents people from using their real-world watts.

And so back in the day, 2,000 years ago, the Greeks had astrolabes, and you could calculate where the stars are going to be in the future, where the heavenly bodies are going to be in the Ethereum Proof of Stake Model future. And the state machine programmer would change its state by pulling a lever or pushing a button or turning a dial in some cases. So you’re changing the state of this machine.

Proof of Stake vs. Proof of Work

The Hannibals out there, the Genghis Khans out there, to just not roll in and take your stuff. And so, for these reasons, it’s systemically insecure because so long as you have and rely on abstract power, you are technically powerless from a physical standpoint. You have no capacity to impose severe physically prohibitive costs on people who either try to invade you or try to exploit you. And it’s silly to me because people can’t even verify that it’s not already centralized. You have no idea who is behind the stake.


… if we want the system to have a particular security guarantee. And then often there is a way to modify the upper stake mechanism to also achieve it. So it’s just much more flexible and it shows through in the efficiency and the security of the network. So he would keep going through this, right?

Proof of Stake vs. Proof of Work

There’s a way to verifiably prove that that was the only right answer to the question that I asked through mathematics. And this is what’s happening, where… And we’re doing this digitally over the internet, right? This is what’s happening in a proof of work system that these miners are solving for, and it’s verifiable through mathematics. So if they’re unsympathetic to your abstract power, then it’s completely useless or if they don’t understand your laws because they speak completely different language or if you’ve been geographically separated. When you use abstract power, abstract power is non-inclusive. So not everyone gets to have a high rank.

And then they hand those scripts to machines, and then machines can actually read those. These general purpose state machines role play according to the instructions that they’ve received. So at no point did the program actually physically exist, just the medium through which it was transferred to the machine.

What Is Proof Of Stake?

So you actually didn’t need to build anything. You just needed to think of a good design, and then figure out how to translate what was in your brain into instructions for a machine. For example, the first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace, her program was for a machine that didn’t even exist.

So an easy way to think about what programming represents is kind of to think about Shakespeare. Shakespeare comes up with a story, an abstract, fictional story called, what’s the famous one? So Romeo and Juliet is just a fictional story, does not physically exist. And then Shakespeare converts that from an imaginary story that’s only in his brain, and he writes it down. So he uses a symbolic language, a syntactically and semantically complex language to translate the fictional story in his head onto a script. And then he hands that script to an actor, and then the actors give a performance.

Proof of Stake vs. Proof of Work

Because validators who act in poor faith could lose their staked assets as a result, it’s a pricey incentive to act ethically. Once a new block is added to a proof of stake blockchain, the validator receives staking rewards, typically in the form of the cryptocurrency they staked. Blockchains are decentralized, self-governing digital ledgers that permanently record transaction data across peer-to-peer computer networks. Most blockchains are public, meaning anybody who wants to can take part in key functions of maintaining the network, primarily validating transactions and updating the blockchain accordingly.

Blockchain Education

And I think it’s going to start happening. And so that’s the message I’m trying to get out. I just wanted to address that because I do really appreciate all the help and all the people like you that I get to meet, that can help shape this. It’s really important to me to do this publicly because of my job and the reason why I’m at MIT. I am researching the national strategic implications of Bitcoin and I am going to send this straight to the Joint Chiefs once we finish it. And I am going to be advising senior policy makers and I already do.

Proof of Stake vs. Proof of Work

Proof of work is the most popular of the two main consensus mechanisms for validating transactions on blockchains. While it’s not without limitation, miners using proof of work help ensure that only legitimate transactions are recorded on the blockchain. “Miners work to solve complex math problems to earn a reward,” says Dan Schwenk, chief executive officer of Digital Asset Research.

Less Energy

And so Satoshi, the beauty of Bitcoin is like, “Okay, well how do you decentralize that control authority over that ledger? You make the people who solve the hash cost function the people who get to write the ledger. So by doing that, you impose a real-world physically-prohibitive cost on people who attempt to control the ledger, and then boom, right there, now you have a proof of power system, just like natural selection is vetted, right?

You just have to brute force it, you just have to randomly guess, and then you’re just randomly lucky. And so that’s really important when it comes to the field of software system security because it’s important to recognize that software doesn’t break, it can’t break. Software just does exactly as it’s told. So if there’s ever a hack or if there’s ever something bad that happens, nothing was broken, people are just taking advantage of the rules of the system. With computer science, the last thing I’ll leave is, it’s so complex that we just pile on different abstract ideas to make it simpler for us to comprehend what is way more complex than we comprehend.

It Chews Up Power

I say accidents because a lot of pack animals have natural instincts to basically pull their punches to effectively not injure each other. You turn boars into pigs, you turn jungle fowl into chicken. So the difference between a boar and a pig is the pig doesn’t put up a fight.

But they have designed these weird things that come out of their heads and they’re not horns. And so when they butt heads and they fight each other, they actually get entangled by design to prevent themselves from injuring each other. But those same antlers can be used to stab enemy predators that are attacking them. Proof of Work is the original validating mechanism. It is a consensus mechanism and algorithm built to establish trust within decentralized networks. In these cases, Proof of Work is utilised within Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to validate new batches of data and transactions on Blockchains.

That’s how high this honest people can scale that. So we’ve already established that when you take the will to fight out of domesticated animals, they become systemically exploitable. That same thing repeated itself when agrarian society first adopted these abstract power hierarchies because these god kings essentially exploited their populations at egregious scales. That’s how powerful the natural instinct is to not impose lethal costs on or not physically or lethally injure fellow humans.

As it stands right now, proof of work coins make up the bulk of crypto transactions processed by BitPay. However, with Ethereum’s move to proof of stake, we may see that trend change overtime. Follow BitPay’s Stats page for cryptocurrency trends, prices and usage statistics.

Nodes, or individual computers within the Bitcoin network, known as miners, must solve these puzzles in order to add a record of transactions, known as a block, to the Blockchain. Miners use powerful computers that solve complex maths puzzles and update the blockchain, earning new crypto tokens. While this makes records on the blockchain secure, it’s highly energy-intensive. Nakamoto’s consensus mechanism solved the double-spend problem. By incentivizing miners to verify the integrity of new crypto transactions before adding them to the distributed ledger that is blockchain, proof of work helps prevent double spending.

Guide To Bitcoin Wallets: How To Choose And Use Your Bitcoin Wallet

Now, the way Bitcoin does that is, the people who are validating or the people who are adding transactions to the ledger, if they start to be abusive, you can basically just hash them out of the hash amount of their control authority. But with validators, you can’t because stake itself is zero-sum, okay? For example, let’s just say there’s a situation where some single entity controls 60% of all stake.

So it’s a highly inclusive protocol everyone can fight. What we’re going after here, the main thing that’s making this secure and insecure is control authority over the ledger. So validators have control authority over the ledger. They get to choose which transactions get added to the ledger or which ones don’t, but that is a double-edged sword because that also means they get to withhold transactions from the ledger, which technically means they’re performing a denial-of-service attack. So you have to protect yourself against that.

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