As Bitcoin creeps into the real economy, a little backwards induction shows why one would expect such security assurances to fail

Competition between miners is central to Bitcoin. For now.

For some party to directly enforce their will on the network, they would need to acquire at least 51% of the hashrate. Right now, such a feat is nearly impossible. Obtaining this 51% level of hashrate is so difficult to do, that most Bitcoiners insist that the United States couldn’t even do this. The reason it would be nearly impossible for the US to do this on short notice is that the large part of the hashrate is produced by machines such as the Antminer S19, which produce 110 TH/s. By…

Bitcoin’s extremely clunky and inefficient security mechanism is robust against most threats. PoS is not.

When people discuss PoW or PoS and talk about incentives, throwing around terms like “Nash equilibrium”, they are usually referring to mechanisms internal to that specific blockchain. “Bitcoin is secured by Proof of Work” is a true statement up to the point when an outside attacker has enough incentive to destroy the system.

Cardano has claimed that Proof of Work is equally as secure as Proof of Stake. I believe this only if you consider internal attack vectors. With external attack vectors, things get unpredictable.

Bitcoin is relatively secure because it would be extremely difficult, not only financially, but physically…

A lawsuit against Tesla, Musk et al. May have better odds than other recent attempts at climate impact litigation.

Before we begin, three quick points.

  1. The goal isn’t to destroy “Bitcoin : A peer-to-peer Electronic Cash Sytem.” The goal is to destroy “Bitcoin: A Number Go Up System That Will Make You Rich By Doing Nothing.” The latter can be destroyed, but the former can not.
  2. Why would one want to attack Bitcoin? Here’s my quick manifesto which is independent of environmental concerns. Environmental concerns alone would be enough. A $2000 Bitcoin is fine. A $2,000,000 Bitcoin is not.
  3. I…

Bitcoin, if allowed to continue to grow, will be a perverted social contract that apportions economic value to each human being over the course of their lifetime not based on their hard work, ingenuity, proficiency at a profession, or contribution to the economy, but rather a product of the timing in which they (or their parents) got into the game and how much wealth they had to wager when joining the game.

This perverted social contract locks participants in an adversarial game against other humans. The mindset and incentives of this game diminish the human ability to engage fully and mindfully in Life — Eating, drinking, loving, creating, taking pride in one’s work, enjoying Creation’s abundance, or any other activity that gives life meaning.

Bitcoin will be the largest driver for inequality in human history

In short, cryptocurrency will consummate a marriage between two industries, finance and tech. Over the 10–20 years these industries have demonstrated little more than theatrical concern with morality, especially when profit is involved. Fusing these now, when the government struggles to regulate either, will create runaway inequality and accelerate the trajectory towards neo-feudalism we’ve seen over the last 40 years.

I’m going to argue in turn that there are two things that are almost certainly going to happen if Bitcoin gains widespread adoption.

  1. Creation of a new generation of uber-wealthy tech-bros and social media tech firms who are very powerful…

While some FUD is easy to defend, some will only get much worse.

Eight years ago, Bitcoin was something people laughed at. It was OK to laugh at the time because most people really don’t care if people are buying weed from the Silk Road, or experimenting with digital currency. But as Bitcoin has become a smart investment, people are dropping the scorn and replacing it with a salty attitude. The salt we are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg. It will continue to get worse and worse as Bitcoin becomes more expensive. Remember, if 2% are Bitcoiners, the other 98% aren’t. These other 98% aren’t going to simply say “y’all…

The question of if a nation-state could attack Bitcoin comes up somewhat often in the Bitcoin community. Almost always, that nation is China. The reasons are available at first glance: 1) China houses 65% of Bitcoin mining, and 2)China is the authoritarian global superpower from central casting that Bitcoiners like to say they’re building Bitcoin to frustrate. However, I’ve been arguing, almost exclusively to deaf ears, that the US has much more to lose if Bitcoin undergoes “hyperbitcoinization,” a term that Bitcoiners use to describe the glorious world in which Bitcoin has replaced the Treasury, gold, the US dollar.


It’s fun and easy to make Bitcoin miserable if you have a supermajority of the hashrate.

Suppose you are a nation-state that’s has dedicated many billions of dollars to effectively ruining Bitcoin. You’ve amassed well over 51% of the hashrate. You now want to shut it down. The easiest thing to do would be simply to mine empty blocks. As Jimmy Song pointed out, the nodes aren’t just going to sit there and keep validating your empty blocks. They will use a command called invalidateblock. So what do you do?

There are many possibilities — in fact, there are literally infinitely many possibilities. Your goal is to disrupt consensus. …

This generalizes the “empty-block attack” and has not been debunked.

I attended a Clubhouse debate today surrounding the so-called “Empty Block Attack” as popularized by Joe Kelly, Mike Kelly, and also Mike Green on a recent podcast. Unfortunately, a large part of the “debate” was Jimmy Song yelling that he had debunked the Empty Block Attack, while Mike and Joe trying to explain that what Jimmy had debunked was not the actual attack. After a bit of this wrangling, Jimmy, and some others in the room concluded, that “we can just invalidate the adversarial blocks.” This was not explained to any degree of satisfaction: Any acknowledgment that the nodes can…

No this has not been debunked. Game theory suggests the opposite.

In Jimmy Song’s latest post “Debunking the Empty Block Attack he asks, more or less, “why are we still having this conversation? Didn’t we debunk this years ago?”

Indeed, there are tired and repeated arguments. Often these arguments suffer from a lack of imagination. I’m going to argue that the attack is far from debunked, and respond specifically to a couple of the points in the above post.

First, the defense that is suggested is inadequate. The suggested defense (assuming for the moment that 51% hashrate is available to the adversary) is that nodes could simply run “invalidateblock” to all…

Achim Littlepage

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store