Crypto Currencies — A Spectacular Innovation, Ironically Hinging On Blind Faith That No Innovative Mathematician Would Melt Their Wealth Away

We know which mathematical breakthrough would undo bitcoin, we just bet that no one will be that innovative — irony of ironies.

The publication of Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 unleashed a mental orgasmic experience even for people who did not quite understand the bitcoin idea. A flash of pride in human ingenuity, a real joy of intellectual feat, a sensation resembling the realization of the Darwinian premise of evolution. The power of logic, the achievement of pure reason — thrilling brilliance! Much of the still mounting enthusiasm for these crypto currencies is explained through the sense of human brainy superiority. “It is so elegant it must be good!” Young programmers abandoned clubbing and smoking, and instead spent long nights with Merkle Trees, and hashing routines. Venture capitalists scurried around, checkbook in hand, “crypto” was red hot.

What a remarkable revolution, instead of using pickaxes to dig out tiny gold nuggets in piles of dirt, today’s miner is running a computing farm, looking for a bit-wise needle, in a digital hay. “JAVA-made slingshots will bring down the abusive financial Goliaths, render central banks irrelevant, and vest power in the global community” — That’s the vision. Youthful imaginations were fired up, and the train of crypto currencies left the station with a deafening whistle — “unstoppable”.

As the train whisks by, it is easy to overlook the fact that its locomotive is bound by its rails. Its motion, however sweeping, will discontinue — abruptly — where the crypto rails fall apart.

“It’s based on complex math which I don’t understand, but I trust academic, reputable mathematicians who assure me that it is all solid.” That is the argument I hear time and again. Not really! The analogy is misleading. Construction smarts evolved gradually over thousands of years, is backed by physical results, and generally faces no persistent human effort to undo it. Crypto currencyby contrast, is a new invention, has no physical backing, and is in the crosshair of attackers as smart as its developers. Crypto money was built on brilliant innovation, and will be undone by brilliant counter-innovation. You don’t need to be a professional mathematician to understand the following logic.

In the early 70s, a handful of young mathematicians (Diffie, Hellman, Rivest, Shamir, Adelman) revolutionized cyber space with a concept known by the obscure name “asymmetric cryptography”. The idea being to formulate a mathematical riddle, which while it clearly has a solution, it is believed that nobody around is smart enough to figure it out within a reasonable measure of time. The basis of this belief is the fact that these mathematicians published such riddles in the mathematical literature and challenged their peers to crack them. No one published a way to do so. For a hearty mathematician though, such absence of a published solution does not, to the least, prove that such a solution does not exist. For more than three hundred years, no one found a counter example to the famous Fermat Last Theorem, but no respectable mathematician accepted such evidence as proof. So why do very respected mathematicians regard the fact that the mathematical literature shows no solution to the riddle of asymmetric cryptography — as sufficient basis to recommend to crypto currency designers and to e-commerce developers to regard such absence of publication as proof of absence of existence?

The reason is simple. If asymmetric cryptography is well founded, then it offers cyber space dwellers incomparable benefits. It would be so nice if there is no quick solution to the asymmetric cryptography riddle; it would open so many doors that it is very tempting to make an exception, very tempting indeed! Whether Fermat Last Theorem is true or not, makes no economic difference. It is of purely academic interest, so mathematicians can exhibit religious purity and dismiss absence of a published counter example as proof that no counter example exists. But asymmetric cryptography is the foundation of the Internet boom — electronic payment is hinged, rooted, on the premise that asymmetric cryptography is solid and robust. And since 2009, the entire world of crypto currencies regards asymmetric cryptography as its foundation. So as days go by and no one publishes a solution to the asymmetric riddle, there is more and more faith in the premise itself.

It may sound a reasonable approach until you look deeper. And, again, you don’t have to be a professional mathematician to agree with the following rationale. There is no dispute that the asymmetric riddle can be solved, it is clear that a solution does exist. The argument is only over the question of whether an adversary can find the solution fast enough and harm us. In fact ‘smarts’ itself in the context of number-theory (the mathematical branch to which the riddle belongs) can be defined by how fast one is in finding the solution to an asymmetric cryptography riddle. The better mathematician you are, the faster you solve this riddle. And in that context one defines innovation by the ability to solve an asymmetric riddle faster. So if it takes you today 100 hours to solve a riddle of the type described as asymmetric cryptography, and you suddenly figured out a way to solve the same in 90 hours — then you have demonstrated a measure of innovation. If you are innovative enough, you bring the time down to 80, 60 why not 20 hours? You don’t know until you try!

Innovation is the situation where you know today something you did not know yesterday, and the expectation to realize tomorrow something you are clueless about today. So if you believe in inherent human innovation, you should subscribe to the premise that however hopeless it seems today that the riddle can be solved faster, natural human innovation will nonetheless unveil the knowledge to do so. But if you adhere to this premise, then you must sadly admit that a day would come, may be soon, when all the goodies we enjoy today owing to the robustness of asymmetric cryptography — will be no more. The remarkable innovation of asymmetric cryptography will eventually become undone by equally remarkable crypto-killer innovation.

It is no big deal for e-commerce — no sooner would someone publish a quick way to solve the deployed asymmetric riddle, than e-commerce would switch away from the compromised tool, and do something else. But for crypto currency a collapse of its asymmetric cryptography foundation leads to a total meltdown, to overnight evaporation of all the listed assets; “poof!” here goes all the value stored in such currencies. In other words, ironic as it may be, the remarkable innovation of crypto currencies is hinged on the baseless hope and on the unfounded faith that the innovation that would unveil the mathematical killer algorithm of the currency, will not materialize. We can hold on to the super innovation of crypto currency only if we subscribe to the opposite stance with regard to the feasibility of the equally remarkable innovation to kill it dead.

Does it mean that a prudent approach will be to forget crypto currencies and assume it never happened?

Not at all. Several centuries ago an intellectual storm swept through the land — alchemy. Respected scientists salivated over their innovative experiments designed to transform lead into gold. They eventually realized that it was a bridge too far, but the tools and the technology they used were turned around and became chemistry — and we know how useful chemistry has become! Same here: the idea of digital currency is alive and well — compelling. We just need to surgically remove its reliance on absence of innovation. How can we do that?

The BitMint way. I can spend days, even years, staring at a hard mathematical problem and be totally at a loss as to how to solve it. The same problem may be looked at by Einstein, Turing, Gauss, or Euclid, and they would right away spot the answer. It will be foolish for me to declare that since I could not solve this problem, nobody will! Alas, imagine a box that generates a sequence of bits “0” and “1”. Let the bits come out without a particular order — — randomly, then by definition I will be unable to guess the identity of the next bit out of the box with a probability better than 50%. But what is more remarkable about this bit-spitting box is that even Einstein, Turing, Gauss and Euclid will be bound by the same unimpressive record of 50% probability of right guessing the identity of the next bit. How can I be sure? Since they are so much smarter, maybe they can find a way?

For the last 115 years science teaches us that nature in its deepest foundation spews bits, which are purely random — namely there is no formula, no order, no pattern, no rule that guides them. And if there is no guiding formula, then there is no possibility that even much smarter people than you and me will discover it.

In BitMint we designed such a box and designed on top of it a digital currency protocol which mints digital coins that do legally and properly everything that bitcoin and Ethereum do, but does not sit on a time-bomb that would explode when bitcoin and Ethereum killer innovation raises its head. One will have to roll back 115 years of quantum physics to compromise the BitMint randomness minted coin.

You have a chance to be at the front row of the digital money theater as the fire-spewing dragons of bitcoin and Ethereum battle the BitMint knight in shining random armor, as it makes its showing in the field.

AI powered innovation. Quantum Cyber. Digital Money. Cyber Chemistry. 28 granted US Patents. Researcher, Designer, Teacher, Novelist.