Crypto

Web3 at a16z (and a bit of a16z’s structure)

An interview with a16z’s (Andreessen Horowitz) head of crypto investing, Chris Dixon. First, a bit on how a16z is structured (good info for anyone interested in startups and VC) then they get into a deep dive on web3, NFTs, and more in that space. I found it a fascinating and informative, if long, read. https://www.theverge.com/23020727/decoder-chris-dixon-web3-crypto-a16z-vc-silicon-valley-investing-podcast-interview

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Proof of work vs proof of stake

Energy, in the form of electricity, is how bitcoin and ethereum transactions are validated today. The faster a “miner” can solve a math problem to approve a transaction, the more likely they are to be rewarded with some of the cryptocurrency. And they do that by using a bunch of computers all working together – hence, using electricity. That’s called “proof of work” and is the original idea behind the whole crypto thing. But there’s another idea that’s been catching on – proof of stake – and one that Ethereum has been planning to adopt for quite a while (there are other cryptocurrencies that already use this method). In proof of stake, a prospective validator puts up a stake (a given amount of the cryptocurrency) then one of the prospective validators is chosen algorithmically to validate the transaction. Once validated, another group (“attestors”) confirms and accepts the validation. This is an asttempt to rein in the massive electricity use.

Read more about it at https://www.technologyreview.com/2022/03/04/1046636/ethereum-blockchain-proof-of-stake if you’re interested.

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Good analogies help understanding and hacking bitcoin with quantum computers

About half way thru the article explains superposition and entanglement using an analogy of spinning coins. It’s an interesting analogy and one that could help folks who don’t understand those concepts. Aside from that, the article is interesting because it discusses hacking bitcoin (or, more generally, a blockchain) and why more qubits are needed as a sort of error correction..
https://www.cnet.com/news/quantum-hackers-could-break-bitcoin-in-minutes-but-dont-panic-just-yet/

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“You don’t own web3”

Jack Dorsey tweeted this a few days ago (https://twitter.com/jack/status/1473139010197508098) and it caused quite a stir. I don’t completely disagree with him but I think it’s a little different – web3 belongs to those with cash. You see, every transaction, every webpage loads, every search has to be paid for in some way. Why? It’s the cost of owning your own privacy and is the linchpin of web3. No, it generally doesn’t cost a lot but you have to pay in REAL money by way of tokens or cryptocurrency. Want a web3 domain? Sure! Get one at https://app.ens.domains/ for only $5/year. BUT you’ll need to pay the “gas” (i.e. pay for the energy expended to register your domain on the Ethereum blockchain. How much is that? Well, how much does ETH cost? Right now, it’ll cost about $100 to register that $5 domain. Quite a lot different from those deals you can get from “regular” registrars (for .com and .org, etc).

So, which is it? Pay with money or pay with your personal information?

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No-code/Low-code web3

A few days ago I was fortunate enough to find out about thirdweb.com over on ProductHunt.com. (see https://www.producthunt.com/posts/thirdweb). ThirdWeb is a platform to help you build and deploy web3 apps and games without worrying about how to make your commits to the blockchain of your choice. It’s still in the early adopter phase and they interface with various testnets so you can create and test your ideas for no cost (you can easisly get free testnet tokens). If you’re interested in learning more or trying your hand at creating a web3 app (dApp), check them out – https://thirdweb.com/early

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Roadblocks to web3 and cryptocurrency

Every time I bring up either of those subjects to someone not part of the “in crowd” (I say, tongue-in-cheek), I’m met with either a blank stare or a statement of disbelief (e.g. “scam”, “ponzi scheme”). And it’s JUSTIFIED! This whole area is clouded with jargon and the mysticism so often created by the technorati when it comes to new technology. https://paulstamatiou.com/crypto-design-challenges/ (a LONG read) discusses this and proposes ways to remove the mystic

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256 qubits?!?

QuEra Computing (https://www.quera.com/) has just launched with a 256-qubit computer. They call it a simulator, I guess because it uses a different underlying technology but it supposedly really is a 256 qubit quantum computer! See https://venturebeat.com/2021/11/17/quera-offers-new-quantum-advantage-based-on-harvard-and-mit-research and. yes, this has significant implications on security which impacts on blockchain, wifi security, network security, ssh, and pretty much everything else that relies on encryption. https://www.fastcompany.com/90698019/quera-quantum-computing-startup is another good and short article.

This is really pretty new (just announced today) and there aren’t a lot of analyses out there yet so I’d encourage you to do your own searches to keep up with it.

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