DAOs Are Not Scary, Part 2: Reducing Barriers

In the last installment of this series, we talked about what “smart contracts” (or, perhaps more accurately, “self-enforcing contracts”) are, and discussed in detail the two main mechanisms through which these contracts can have “force”: smart property and “factum” currencies. We also discussed the limits of smart contracts, and how a smart contract-enabled legal system might use a combination of human judgement and automatic execution to achieve the best possible outcomes. But what is the point of these contracts? Why... [Read More]

DAOs Are Not Scary, Part 1: Self-Enforcing Contracts And Factum Law

Many of the concepts that we promote over in Ethereum land may seem incredibly futuristic, and perhaps even frightening, at times. We talk about so-called “smart contracts” that execute themselves without any need, or any opportunity, for human intervention or involvement, people forming Skynet-like “decentralized autonomous organizations” that live entirely on the cloud and yet control powerful financial resources and can incentivize people to do very real things in the physical world, decentralized “math-based law”, and a seemingly utopian quest... [Read More]

Ethereum Scalability and Decentralization Updates

Scalability is now at the forefront of the technical discussion in the cryptocurrency scene. The Bitcoin blockchain is currently over 12 GB in size, requiring a period of several days for a new bitcoind node to fully synchronize, the UTXO set that must be stored in RAM is approaching 500 MB, and continued software improvements in the source code are simply not enough to alleviate the trend. With every passing year, it becomes more and more difficult for an ordinary... [Read More]

Important Statement regarding the Ether pre-sale

The Ethereum Project has had the incredible privilege to launch its PoC testnet and engage the crypto-currency community over the past two months. During our experiences, we’ve encountered a lot of passionate support and wonderful questions that have helped us refine our thoughts and goals including the process we will eventually use to sell ether. This said, we have not finalized the structure and format for the ether presale and thus we do not recommend, encourage, or endorse any attempt... [Read More]

Why Not Just Use X? An Instructive Example from Bitcoin

Bitcoin developer Gregory Maxwell writes the following on Reddit: There is a design flaw in the Bitcoin protocol where its possible for a third party to take a valid transaction of yours and mutate it in a way which leaves it valid and functionally identical but with a different transaction ID. This greatly complicates writing correct wallet software, and it can be used abusively to invalidate long chains of unconfirmed transactions that depend on the non-mutant transaction (since transactions refer... [Read More]

Cryptographic Code Obfuscation: Decentralized Autonomous Organizations Are About to Take a Huge Leap Forward

There have been a number of very interesting developments in cryptography in the past few years. Satoshi’s blockchain notwithstanding, perhaps the first major breakthrough after blinding and zero-knowledge proofs is fully homomorphic encryption, a technology which allows you to upload your data onto a server in an encrypted form so that the server can then perform calculations on it and send you back the results all without having any idea what the data is. In 2013, we saw the beginnings... [Read More]

More Thoughts on Scripting and Future-Compatibility

My previous post introducing Ethereum Script 2.0 was met with a number of responses, some highly supportive, others suggesting that we switch to their own preferred stack-based / assembly-based / functional paradigm, and offering various specific criticisms that we are looking hard at. Perhaps the strongest criticism this time came from Sergio Damian Lerner, Bitcoin security researcher, developer of QixCoin and to whom we are grateful for his analysis of Dagger. Sergio particularly criticizes two aspects of the change: the... [Read More]

Introducing Ethereum Script 2.0

This post will provide the groundwork for a major rework of the Ethereum scripting language, which will substantially modify the way ES works although still keeping many of the core components working in the exact same way. The rework is necessary as a result of multiple concerns which have been raised about the way the language is currently designed, primarily in the areas of simplicity, optimization, efficiency and future-compatibility, although it does also have some side-benefits such as improved function... [Read More]

On Transaction Fees, And The Fallacy of Market-Based Solutions

Of all the parts of the Ethereum protocol, aside from the mining function the fee structure is perhaps the least set in stone. The current values, with one crypto operation taking 20 base fees, a new transaction taking 100 base fees, etc, are little more than semi-educated guesses, and harder data on exactly how much computational power a database read, an arithmetic operation and a hash actually take will certainly give us much better estimates on what exactly the ratios... [Read More]

Conference, Alpha Testnet and Ether Pre-sale Updates

Important notice: any information from this post regarding the ether sale is highly outdated and probably inaccurate. Please only consult the latest blog posts and official materials at ethereum.org for information on the sale Ethereum received an incredible response at the Miami Bitcoin Conference. We traveled there anticipating many technical questions as well as a philosophical discussion about the purpose of Ethereum; however, the overwhelming amount of interest and enthusiasm for the project was much larger than we had anticipated.... [Read More]