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Bitcoin Is Not Anonymous

CmdrTaco posted more than 2 years ago | from the yup-its-bitcoin dept.

Bitcoin 279

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers from University College Dublin have conducted an analysis of anonymity on Bitcoin, and found it is not inherently anonymous, and that in many cases, users and their transactions can be identified. They use techniques such as context discovery and flow analysis to investigate and visualize an alleged theft of Bitcoins, which, at the time of the theft, had a market value of approximately half a million U.S. dollars."

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279 comments

Bitcoin is the new Twitter! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869544)

Bitcoin in the new Twitter. No matter how many times you post about it, there's still only a dozen people who care.

Re:Bitcoin is the new Twitter! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869646)

Yeah, but CmdrTaco probably didn't have a vested financial interest in Twitter.

I'll bet that he's sitting on a pile of Bitcoins right now that he's trying to unload at a better price.

Re:Bitcoin is the new Twitter! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869708)

The existence of this icon [fsdn.com] tells you all you need to know.

Re:Bitcoin is the new Twitter! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869866)

It's a jew conspiracy.
Though I'm not sure how exactly.

Re:Bitcoin is the new Twitter! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869716)

What, by posting negative stories about it? Idiot.

Re:Bitcoin is the new Twitter! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36870078)

Truer words were (nearly) never spoken.

We should give it a name: The insecure parrot hype.
Parrot, because it's parroted around, without any thought being involved.
Insecure, because it's only people who like to be cool, but think they aren't, who post about this shit.
And hype, because they force-hype it to their death.

It's like a forced meme poured into the heads of a couple of losers who mistake it for something that you have to have, to be "cool".

Re:Bitcoin is the new Twitter! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36870248)

The insecure parrot hype.

Pronounced "if" so it's edgy and new. Tell all your friends!

Scaaam.... (-1, Troll)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869560)

For my reasons why, check out every other /. comment thread regarding bitcoin.

Re:Scaaam.... (3, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869642)

It's much worse. It's pushing the value of time and energy over to other commodities needed to power the servers. Think coal and natural gas power generation. We simply don't have the renewables in place to offset and eventually lower the cost per kw. That will tens of years if anything. If instead it was crunching numbers for research such as Folding@Home, I can see human value in that. But to pull megawatts of power to essentially run a scam is really bad. Of course, one could say the same for the high frequency trading server infrastructure as well.

Re:Scaaam.... (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869724)

What if you could somehow combine them both? Somehow make the bitcoin be a unique hash of some manner of @home CPU time, be it SETI, Folding, whatever. As a result the coin has some intrinsic value behind it, because it's representative of research being done. Granted, that still doesn't change the fact that no one will necessarily back it, giving it any value, but it might be a starting point.

Honestly, I think the government should back something like this with real money (given, at very small, manageable, rates) in some even just token effort to help push science.

Re:Scaaam.... (0, Troll)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869844)

Per the Bitcoin FAQ
https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/FAQ#Is_it_not_a_waste_of_energy.3F [bitcoin.it]

Is it not a waste of energy?
Spending energy on creating a free monetary system is hardly a waste. Also, services necessary for the operation of currently widespread monetary systems, such as banks and credit card companies, also spend energy, arguably more than Bitcoin would.

I call BS! It's certainly a waste of energy.

Why don't we use calculations that are also useful for some other purpose?
To provide security for the Bitcoin network, the calculations involved need to have some very specific features. These features are incompatible with leveraging the computation for other purposes.

Certainly they could encapsulate those "specific features" within the data stream and be stripped back off when importing the data for research. Right? That may or may not be possible depending on the premise and foundation of the protocol. But it doesn't seem like they even wanted to make the attempt here.

Re:Scaaam.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869930)

It isn't a waste of energy if you were one of the early adopters and could easily mine coins before the curve dropped significantly.

Funny how the early adopters get more coins and more abilities to spend the coins? Concidentally, it would be nice for them if the currency got adopted and coins could be cashed out at a high value.

Funny of how that almost matches the definition of a pyramid scheme. It technically isn't a Ponzi scheme, but early on, you get lots more reward, while late comers get next to nothing.

Bah. At least the BitCoins will be trading well with regards to Beenz or Flooz...

Re:Scaaam.... (3, Insightful)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870122)

What would you have it be, then? If you gave out proportionately more BTC as the number of users grow, the inflation would be insane. So it's 500 BTC per hour, divided among everyone. Yeah, as the number of people grows, your slice becomes tiny. Now you have to earn (or exchange earned money for) bitcoins. Why is it shocking to have to earn your currency?

Bitcoin at its core isn't about making money through mining. It's about having a currency that gets rid of a lot of the disadvantages of current paper currency and payment processing systems. The rapid growth of people participating is making it much more valuable in that regard. You only get "next to nothing" if you were looking for a free handout. For the rest of us, it's a way to actually buy goods and services. For me, the advantage is I dislike and distrust Paypal, and I very much welcome a replacement that isn't tied to yet another flimsy or greedy company.

Re:Scaaam.... (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870142)

I call BS! It's certainly a waste of energy.

While I tend to agree, opponents of Bitcoin seem to be falling into a Streisand Effect trap - the louder you shout, the more you hurt your cause.

Re:Scaaam.... (1)

wasabii (693236) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870398)

The 'work' involves searching for a very hard to find hash. The result has to be legitimately random, in order to prevent tampering.

If you can figure out how to process 'real data' and still keep it 'random', then you can certainly raise it.

Re:Scaaam.... (1)

Drakantus (226374) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869760)

>crunching numbers for research such as Folding@Home

Number of widely-successful global currencies created through bitcoin mining: 0
Number of cancers cured through folding at home: 0

Given that neither distributed computing network has proven successful, I'll stick with the one that earns me real money for my work.

Re:Scaaam.... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870234)

Number of widely-successful global currencies created through bitcoin mining: 0

And bitcoin has only been around for so long. I don't care about bitcoin, nor do I plan to use it (or think that this will happen), but I don't think you should expect change to happen that quickly.

I'll stick with the one that earns me real money for my work.

I agree.

Re:Scaaam.... (4, Insightful)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869788)

That energy is actually put to a good use - it provides security for the block chain against double-spending attacks, by making them computationally infeasible. And it gives pretty good value for the money: as far as costs go for a payment-processing network, it's damned cheap compared to what Visa or Paypal charges.

Yes, early adopters come out well. That's true in any venture. But at the end of the day, that doesn't mean it won't be useful as a payment processing network. The amount that early adopters will get out of this utterly pales in comparison to what the big financial corporations are raping you for.

If you think THIS is a scam, read up more on fractional-reserve banking. The debt-driven US dollar is the biggest ponzi scheme ever.

Re:Scaaam.... (1, Insightful)

m50d (797211) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870068)

The amount that early adopters will get out of this utterly pales in comparison to what the big financial corporations are raping you for.

Bollocks. The big financial corporations haven't taken 80% of all the wealth in existence.

Re:Scaaam.... (2)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870242)

Actually they do in fact own around 80% of USD in existence in the form of debt. Fractional reserve banking is pretty amazing when you dig into it.

Anyway, as for the large number of coins that were mined and never circulated, I honestly don't think it's people trying to take advantage of it like a pyramid scheme. If that was the case they'd have cashed out en masse during last month's valuation bubble. The exchange trade volumes never really got that high - which indicates this isn't a pump and dump, but something else. I believe it's two things: #1, a lot of them were mined on a whim, but people can't be bothered to actually set themselves up to move them; or #2, a lot of them were mined on a whim, and then the wallets lost and discarded when people lost interest.

Re:Scaaam.... (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870160)

If you think THIS is a scam, read up more on fractional-reserve banking. The debt-driven US dollar is the biggest ponzi scheme ever.

Sounds like something that should land a person in federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison.

Re:Scaaam.... (4, Funny)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870166)

The debt-driven US dollar is the biggest ponzi scheme ever.

It's not a ponzi scheme if EVERYBODY plays.

Re:Scaaam.... (2)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870370)

Actually, it still is. The money supply can only keep expanding as long as debt keeps increasing. Once everybody has taken on all the debt they can handle, the money supply will *have* to contract (which will be catastrophic to the economy), or the fed will have to issue money like mad to keep stringing it along (which will be catastrophic to the economy). The pyramid still eventually runs dry even if everyone's bought in.

Re:Scaaam.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36870240)

Good use is in the eye of the beholder. We will remember bitcoin as a failed experiment, you will still be relatively broke and overly opinionated.

Re:Scaaam.... (2)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870302)

It's good to know your magic 8 ball is working perfectly. :)

Perhaps it will fail, but I see it gaining acceptance and recognition. It's useful now for things that Paypal, Visa, etc have found politically unpopular, like donating to Wikileaks. It makes small personal transfers easy. It has value. I think it's much too early to just dismiss it offhand as a failed experiment.

Re:Scaaam.... (2)

glodime (1015179) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870308)

It is possible, but highly unlikely that Bitcoin will be used on as widespread a basis as paypal, let alone Visa (and MasterCard). If you think that when widespread, that the bitcoin system will not be used by banks and intermediaries to perpetuate a fractional-reserve system of credit (possibly by forking the bitcoin system), I think that you are going to be disappointed even if bitcoin becomes popular. There might be a few takers on the other side of that bet on intrade or at the long now foundation.

Re:Scaaam.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36870320)

Let me guess.. you invested heavily in bitcoins?

Re:Scaaam.... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869858)

If it makes you feel any better, there are only a small handful of HFT servers in the world. But they are horrendously wasteful. They even consider CPUs consumables on those things, they run them overclocked to high heaven and just pop in new ones when they burn out.

Re:Scaaam.... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869952)

If they're hot swappable, they could design a magazine clip system where as the old CPU gets ejected and a new one loaded into place. If they're going to view CPUs as a disposable commodity, there are more efficient ways.

OTOH, they could hire someone minimum wage to swap out blades and manually replace the chips while offline.

Re:Scaaam.... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870048)

They don't even shut these things down to swap the chips, they just pull the blade and change the chip manually. I wouldn't be surprised if they come up with a magazine system at some point, if the competition is losing 2% of their processing power for 3 minutes and you can cut that loss of power on your side down to 10 seconds, that could give you a meaningful advantage.

Re:Scaaam.... (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869988)

I generate my bitcoins on a rack of servers powered by Solar panels and enslaved squirrels on treadmills you insensitive clod!

Re:Scaaam.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869670)

Satoshi and the other devs had absolutely nothing to gain in Bitcoin. If you think they are using it to generate cash you are probably incorrect. So I don't see how it can be a scam...

Re:Scaaam.... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869738)

Satoshi and the other devs had absolutely nothing to gain in Bitcoin. If you think they are using it to generate cash you are probably incorrect. So I don't see how it can be a scam...

I'm convinced they did it for the lulz.

They probably invested in AMD and made their money watching all the knuckleheads buying multiple Radeon 5870s.

Re:Scaaam.... (1, Troll)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869834)

From the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] :
"A common criticism is that the initial bitcoin distribution is heavily advantageous towards early-adopters. As stated, bitcoins are distributed ("generated") as an award for the solution to a difficult proof-of-work problem. The drawback is that the amount of work that has to be done for one bitcoin is currently over 500,000 times more than the amount of work at which the first bitcoins were going. As more people join, and also because of a reward function that halves the number of rewarded bitcoins every so many blocks, it becomes harder to generate bitcoins over time, using the same computing power."

Initial group of users get the advantage... The more users join, the more value the initial group owns.
I'm thinking of a shape. A polyhedron. Followed by the word "scheme".

Re:Scaaam.... (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869998)

This is exactly how all pyramid schemes work.

Bitcoin might as well be called amway-coin.

In related news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869562)

Drinking several litres of Coke everyday is not healthy, yet morons will continue to believe that it is.

herp derp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869580)

Anyone who spells "liter" as "litre" is a moron.

Moron.

Re:herp derp (0)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869614)

Anyone who spells "liter" as "litre" is a moron.

Moron.

Or maybe he/she was born in the United Kingdom?

Born in the United Kingdom.

Re:herp derp (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869630)

Except that both spellings are correct.
Litre [wikipedia.org]

Re:herp derp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869830)

It's 'accept', and the person you responded to was pretty obviously trolling all of our UK friends out there... :)

Re:herp derp (0)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869636)

Anyone who spells "liter" as "litre" is a moron.

Ah, so I get everyone writing British English (guess where English originated!) is a moron?

Moron.

At least you admit, by your signature, to be a moron yourself. :-)

Re:herp derp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869652)

It's a French word, you moron.

Metre
Litre
Centre
Acre
Fire

All end in a soft "er" sound, you moron.

Moron.

Re:herp derp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869726)

Except that is how it is supposed to be spelt. It is a defined term, and just because Americans are too fucking stupid to cope with it doesn't change that.

Finally a Tech Related Article About Bitcoin (1)

glodime (1015179) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869596)

Too bad it is merely a academic explanation of what was already known about Bitcoin. At least I can point to this when someone asked for references when I criticize Bitcoin as impractical for the many purposes fanatic proponents advertise.

Re:Finally a Tech Related Article About Bitcoin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869638)

Too bad for you that fanatical proponents (of anything) tend to be quite happy to ignore the facts when it suits them.

Re:Finally a Tech Related Article About Bitcoin (1)

glodime (1015179) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870226)

I was imagining a conversation between myself and a reasonable person that has been informed by fanatics.

No shit. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869608)

No shit. Every transaction is public and permanently recorded in the block chain. Of couse it's not anonymous. The best you can hope for is making it hard for others to identify you and plausible deniability by using different accounts for every transaction and laundering the coins.

Enough bitcoin spam (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869610)

Please stop posting this shit.

I know you're getting paid, but goddammit when the majority if your user base thinks it's spam, quit fucking pretending it's a story.

Re:Enough bitcoin spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869706)

Paid in bitcoin! So the more they spam, the higher the perceived value grows.

investigate the victim (2, Insightful)

CagedApe (1516545) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869620)

Anyone with half a million dollars worth of bitcoins is probably up to no good. At the very least they need to have their head examined for buying monopoly money.

Re:investigate the victim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869756)

Go fuck yourself.

Half a million dollars to whom? (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869628)

I wouldn't give you jack for them. Can I pay my utility bills with them? No. Can I may my mortgage with them? No. Can I go into most shops or online stores and buy stuff with them? No.

They're nothing more than a financial toy for people to play around with and waste energy on GPU calculations which they justify by reeling off a list of websites no one has heard of where you can buy useless crap with them.

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869752)

You can buy some nice frequency-hopping spread spectrum modems with them: http://valhalla-wireless.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=42

>>websites no one has heard of where you can buy useless crap with them.

Why not? There are lots of exchanges to convert BTC to other currencies.

>>Can I pay my utility bills with them? No. Can I may my mortgage with them? No

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (3, Insightful)

alex67500 (1609333) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869786)

Top-Posting? On Slashdot? Isn't there a special spam/fool filter removing this kind of lower people?

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (1)

leonbev (111395) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869758)

Well... you can buy illegal drugs from Silk Road with them. If it wasn't for that, I'd imagine that Bitcoins would have no monetary value whatsoever.

Amusingly, the people doing that are doing so because they think that Bitcoins aren't traceable. This article doesn't help that delusion.

Medical use of controlled substances (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870070)

Well... you can buy illegal drugs from Silk Road with them.

But can you buy a senator or two so that they'll get taken down to CII or lower, which any doctor can prescribe?

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (1, Insightful)

derfy (172944) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869766)

Hope more people see this comment. You can't do jack with bitcoins at the moment. Who knows, maybe in the future we can but for now:
News for nerds? Maybe. Stuff that matters? Hell no.

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (2)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869782)

The same could be said for quite a lot of things, for instance World of Warcraft characters. But some of those have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Not everything has to be tangible to have a value (the entire concept of copyright, for instance, credit cards, pyramid schemes). And not everything that is tangible has value (Zimbabwean currency, for instance).

To the right buyer, a bit of paint slapped on a canvas in a vague square is worth millions. It's just a question of finding a buyer. Considering BitCoin has started to be featured in the Money/City sections of newspapers now (e.g. Metro.co.uk this morning), it doesn't need to have anything tangible or concrete behind it. Value does not always mean cash, either.

That said, I bet you could find *someone* who wanted to part with money in exchange for a certain amount of Bitcoins. Thus it has value. Everything else is just negotiation.

Difficulty of finding someone (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870110)

That said, I bet you could find *someone* who wanted to part with money in exchange for a certain amount of Bitcoins.

The value derived from that is limited due to the difficulty of finding someone. Once more well-known merchants start accepting BTC payment for goods [bitcoin.it] , the value proposition might become easier to see. Let me know when that has happened.

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (0)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870304)

People aren't billing World of Warcraft characters as a form of money, either. When your "currency" can be compared to World of Warcraft characters, I think it's pretty plain to see how valuable it is as a currency. By the way, I have a WoW character that I used to defeat the Lich King last year. I wouldn't sell it for bitcoins.

What a load of drivel (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870306)

Bitcoin is supposed to be a currency. WoW characters or items are NOT a currency not is anybody pretending it to be. Neither are paintings currency, there is no exchange anywhere in the world that even pretends at giving a dollar price for a painting. At best you got auction houses but next thing you will be claiming my labour is a currency just because I can sell it.

Bitcoin by claiming to be a currency claims to be something more then trade items that have a value if someone is willing to pay it. A dollar has a certain value. The way it has this value is rather insubstantial but because enough people subscribe to it it works. I can exchange my dollar for other established currencies and goods/services at a fairly stable rate.

But really, virtual currencies are so last bubble. Back then people believed totally in them as well. Where are they now?

Value only has meaning if enough people buy into it. A rembrandt has value because a lot of people regonize this. My paintings are at least as good (my mom told me so) but they don't have any market value.

You can just create a currency, if you could the Greeks would have done it by now.

To think otherwise to to live in la-la land. The world just doesn't work as it does in your cyber-punk novels or whatever trash you been reading.

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (0)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869784)

Can I pay my utility bills with them? No. Can I may my mortgage with them? No. Can I go into most shops or online stores and buy stuff with them? No.

However, I most certainly can do all of the above with them. Since they're "worthless" to you, would you mind giving me all of yours? Oh, they're "too valuable" to give away? Oh OK then.

If anyone wants to get rid of some, get in touch with me. I'll gladly take those worthless digital objects off your hands for free.

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869962)

This argument is stupid: those of us who recognize BTC as an idiotic pump-and-dump obviously decided not to "mine" the buttcoin in the first place.

still Buttcoin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36870402)

Are we still calling it Buttcoin? I thought Bitcon was even funnier, myself... :)

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870022)

You can have the sum total of my Bitcoins but I will trade them at a total of $0.50 a coin which is well below the market price. So if you would please deposit $0.00 into my account you can have them.

The biggest problem is that in general people don't value Bitcoins, the only people who do are those who are Bitcoin fanatics. It is somewhat similar to the people who preach buy gold now. At least gold has some use in a high tech society, and in general people place some intrinsic value on that soft yellow metal beyond its industrial uses, the same is true for silver. For those of you who are really worried about the collapse of the dollar I suggest these [wikipedia.org] as [wikipedia.org] alternate [wikipedia.org] currencies [wikipedia.org] . These will be by far more useful for trade and general day to day life than some imaginary digital currency that requires an internet connection and power to be traded. Add to it that you now have a tangible object and you should even be able to placate the goldbugs who don't like fiat money since it isn't backed by something physical.

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870128)

Since they're "worthless" to you, would you mind giving me all of yours?

I think the point is that Viol8 hasn't bought any.

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (2)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870270)

Just on the off chance that you're not lying, what utility, mortgage lender, and shops accept Bitcoin in payment?

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869838)

I wouldn't give you jack for them. Can I pay my utility bills with them? No. Can I may my mortgage with them? No. Can I go into most shops or online stores and buy stuff with them? No.

They're nothing more than a financial toy for people to play around with and waste energy on GPU calculations which they justify by reeling off a list of websites no one has heard of where you can buy useless crap with them.

That on its own is a really dumb argument. The same can be said for Japanese Yens (assuming you don't live in Japan), gold coins and Van Gogh paintings. According to your logic, they would be worthless too.

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (0)

Vernes (720223) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869938)

I heard about this interweb thing, bunch of nerds sending text to each other from universities. Why are they wasting all this money on it? There's absolutely no money in this internet thing. Funny how things change when more people use it.

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (2)

wrook (134116) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870150)

You can get hosting for them. To me that seems genuinely useful. A lot of stuff that you could do that people might give you bitcoins for require an online presence. Maybe you don't want to receive *only* bitcoins, but it does overcome some of the many problems that might come up with something like Paypal. Also, there are a surprisingly large number of people willing to give you US dollars for bitcoins. The daily volume is considerably higher than I would have thought reasonable. But there you go... (if it's money laundering, I think some people will get a rude awakening, as one can infer from the TFA...)

Not my thing and there are a lot of oddities about Bitcoin that make me cautious, but it is not entirely useless.

Re:Half a million dollars to whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36870372)

Really? Can only buy useless crap with them? Gee, I got a pile of silver that cost me pennies on the dollar using bitcoins. /shrug

Slashdot and Bitcoin (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869640)

In order to analyse whetehr Slashdot is overly preoccupied with Bitcoin, I have conducted a rigorous scientific analysis. My methodology relies on the key fact that Google knows everything. To draw on the wisdom of Google, I typed slashdot into my Google search bar. The results are revealing:

Google suggests (in this order):
slashdot
slashdot rss
slashdotted
slashdot wiki
slashdot bitcoin

Phrases such as "slashdot linux", "slashdot news" and "slashdot " did not appear.

I'm still working on the conclusions.

Re:Slashdot and Bitcoin (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869818)

I doubt this means that bitcoin is more prevalent that linux in /.

Probably it means that /. is one of the few places where bitcoins appear many times, while linux appears in a lot more of places. So, in the eyes of Google, "bitcoin" would be more particular to slashdot than "linux", but I am almost sure that linux appears more.

Re:Slashdot and Bitcoin (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869832)

In ye olden days it would have been "slashdot ebook" "slashdot e-ink". How they missed "slashdot paket" is a mystery to me.

Re:Slashdot and Bitcoin (3, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869872)

Are you sure you didn't do a search for bitcoins yourself earlier? Google will remember that. I tried the same autocomplete query just now and only got:

slashdot rss
slashdot effect
slashdot reader
slashdot.org
slashdot wiki

No bitcoin mentions on the first page either.

Re:Slashdot and Bitcoin (3, Informative)

kaizendojo (956951) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869916)

I could care less about Bitcoin, and have NEVER searched for it, and my results were identical to the OPs. Just saying.

Re:Slashdot and Bitcoin (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870090)

I think it is because there is a lot of libertarian anrcho-capitalism where those pushing Bitcoin have wet dreams of the dollar failing and being relegated to the status of the old German Notgeld [wikipedia.org]

Re:Slashdot and Bitcoin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36870120)

Those suggestions from google are based on what other people search for. So in other words, slashdot is giving people what they want. You can shut up now.

Hey look! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869672)

I hate bitcoin hurr durr.

I wish... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869704)

People need to learn the difference between anonymity and pseudonymity. Bitcoin is not anonymous, and neither are so many other things mistakenly labeled anonymous.

In the context of Slashdot:

AC == Anonymous
handle == pseudonymous
handle linked to meatspace identity == identified

Pseudonymous actions are those where an arbitrary identifier (handle, public key fingerprint, assigned account number) completely replaces the meatspace identity a person has been assigned by government.

Pseudonymous actions by a specific identifier (such as as Bitcoin key) can be linked to other actions by that identifier.

Anonymous actions have no primary key linking together events by a person or group of persons acting in concert.

An anonymous payment would be something like cash in the mail, so long as the envelope is devoid of any identifer, assigned or pseudo, which could connect that envelope and its contents to another action by the person who sent it.

Re:I wish... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869976)

A good post but with all due respect you won't get anywhere on /. without a standard /. car analogy

Anonymous is a plain vanilla daily driver with no plates and the VIN and serial numbers torched off and otherwise is moments away from getting the chop shop treatment. If you wipe the fingerprints off the controls, I think it would be quite a challenge to figure out who owns it.

Pseudonymous is a rather "unique" customized car and no plates, like a race track car. Everyone trivially knows it on sight, but it would take a lot of work and "special access" to legally prove title in a court of law. Maybe the engine computer ODBII has a serial number and maybe the emissions tester guys store it? Maybe the combination of non-stock tire and chassis is semi-unique and the owner paid for that combination at a local tire store with a check or credit card? Maybe the radio had the warantee card sent in with true information or the serial on the receipt connected to the credit card to pay for it?

Identified is like the guy in my home town who somewhat skillfully modified his pickup truck from a "Ford" to a "Floyd". Let me take a WAG as to the owner's name. How about that mostly white container truck with the words "fedex" on the sides, I'm guessing thats almost certainly a fedex truck.

half a million U.S. Dollars?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869720)

How does this ponzi scheme continue to proliferate and have any value at all????

So, who is the thief? (3, Interesting)

Teppy (105859) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869794)

The article does all sorts of graph theory visualizations about the well-known 25k BTC theft, tracking flows of Bitcoins from one address to another to prove Bitcoin is not anonymous.

What they fail to do is identify the thief!

Perhaps the margin of their paper was too small to include the thief's name.

Re:So, who is the thief? (3, Insightful)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870104)

From the comments in TFA, as written by one of the authors:

We don't set out to to de-anonymise the thief - we are researchers, not law enforcement, and we are just using that as an example to show its possible to trace the flow of Bitcoins around the network.

It is possible to use Bitcoin in a way that is almost certainly anonymous, in the same way it is possible to get almost certain anonymity on the Internet, by using encryption, onion routing, and never associating your identity with your actions.

Our point is that you don't get this anonymity automatically, and that most casual users of Bitcoin may not be anonymous, even though many of them may believe they are.

The system looks more anonymous than it is.

This, of course, is something we've already discussed ad nauseum here. :)

Re:So, who is the thief? (1)

BetterSense (1398915) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870380)

Also, suppose they do trace back to the thief. Isn't it possible that they just find an identity or address which is itself anonymous? I mean, a lot of this stuff goes over my head, but can't you actually create an anonymous identity, and then have the identity do the actual bitcoin transactions?

who's the theif? (1)

Deanalator (806515) | more than 2 years ago | (#36869842)

First of all, absolutely no service is anonymous, you are just trusting different entities with the information. Some people say bitcoin is anonymous because it doesn't require state ID and a signature to send money, which is a fine definition. Identities can trivially be created or destroyed in bitcoin, and if someone is careful, then it can be very hard to prove who controls which identity. I find it funny that the whole premise of the article is that it's not anonymous, and for their case study they pick a large theft, and still know absolutely nothing useful about the thief's identity.

It's as anonymous as the user makes it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36869846)

If you advertise a bitcoin address in a forum post asking for donations, of course they can Google the result, and identify you.

If however, someone were to transfer their bitcoins to 20 different wallets, each random amounts, at random times. And then mix them into a pool such as mybitcoin, it is impossible to trace the origin. The bitcoin client sends oldest bitcoins first, so when they withdraw from mybitcoin, they will never get the same as they deposited.

Re:It's as anonymous as the user makes it. (1)

lyml (1200795) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870360)

Yes but the knowledge about who you are is known by mybitcoin. Mybitcoin might destroy this information (but probably don't) but bitcoins are inherently not anonymous. Also this send to random amounts to 20 different wallets adds no difficulty to tracing the origin of the coins.

Give it up allready (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36870162)

No one cares about bitcoin except those stupid enough to 'invest'

NOBODY. CARES. About. Bitcoin. (-1, Redundant)

gapagos (1264716) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870164)

Stop. Posting. About Bitcoin. Nobody. Cares. About. Bitcoin.

Re:NOBODY. CARES. About. Bitcoin. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36870316)

Correct; however we do care about proper punctuation. Now stop that or I'll send you to bed without dinner.

Re:NOBODY. CARES. About. Bitcoin. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36870374)

I care. It is at the nexus of technology, finance and privacy. I guess you would rather see /. turn into another wired or gizmodo clone with nothing but vapid product reviews.

Anonymous reader? (1)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870168)

I see this article was contributed by "anonymous reader." I suppose he doesn't want to take responsibility for bitcoin transactions! "Anonymous" sure has gotten a lot of attention lately!

Nothing more than academic research-grant grabbing (2)

tomweeks (148410) | more than 2 years ago | (#36870218)

That bastard 15iUDqk6nLmav3B1xUHPQivDpfMruVsu9f !! Call the cops! :v/

This is the perfect example of the self-perpetuating machine that IS modern, academic research-grant grabbing.. ;)

Tweeks

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