[cryptography] (off-topic) Bitcoin is a repeated lesson in cryptography applications - was "endgame"

Jonathan Thornburg jthorn at astro.indiana.edu
Sun Feb 26 22:24:10 EST 2012

Someone whose name has overflowed my nested-quoting stack wrote
> Perhaps you just need a short list of reasons why Bitcoin
> is not going to replace government issued currencies:
> 1. No offline transactions, which makes Bitcoin useless for
> a large class of transactions.

On Mon, 27 Feb 2012, James A. Donald wrote:
> Smartphones.

The implicit assumptions here, namely that
* everyone who wants to make financial transactions carries a smartphone
* smartphones never break down
* smartphone batteries never run down
* smartphones always have network connectivity
don't always hold.

Regarding this last point, perhaps I'm a bit sensitive based on my
isit last week to Victoria, Canada (population ~350,000), where I was
frequently in no-cellphone-reception areas in residential neighborhoods
within 15 minutes walk of the university campus.  (Victoria is very
hilly, and these areas are on hillsides sloping down to the Pacific

There are good reasons for financial systems (including the crypto
which might underlie them) to allow offline transactions.

[Another key bitcoin flaw is that it's not particularly anonymous
in the face of NSA-level network surveillance.  Cash *is* (remains)
under these conditions.]

-- "Jonathan Thornburg [remove -animal to reply]" <jthorn at astro.indiana-zebra.edu>
   Dept of Astronomy & IUCSS, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
   "Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the
    powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral."
                                      -- quote by Freire / poster by Oxfam

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