Understanding the Test and Risk in Bitcoin
Speaker: Declan O'Riordan
Time: 15:45, Tuesday
The term proof of work was adopted in 2008 by ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency proposal. Proof of work is a test, yet the most significant test of our time was probably not created by a professional Tester. Understanding this test underpins any attempt to adopt blockchain technology.
The genesis Bitcoin block created on 3rd January, 2009 contained a protest message regarding the devaluation of fiat currencies by politicians. Bitcoins first traded at just $0.003 but a new era dawned for currency, distributed data, and the use of cryptography in testing. Speculation in crypto-currencies and new blockchain applications has subsequently become a gold rush.
There are many risks to be considered, but the reductionist ‘impact x likelihood’ pseudo-calculation has multiple limitations. Complex, opaque, non-linear, and subtle risks don’t fit abstract labels, simplified matrices, or linear scales. Time undermines fixed-state approaches that are unable to amplify and dampen feedback, yet appear deterministic.
Understanding risk underpins testing. Yet beneath conventional risks lies another layer, and the unproven assumption that solving a cryptographic problem (proof of work) must take longer than verifying the solution. It takes longer to solve a Sudoku problem than check the solution , so common sense says solving hard problems belongs to a different set than checking the provided solution. If you could prove that you would win the Clay Mathematics Institute $1,000,000 Millennium Prize. If you could disprove it, you would destroy all blockchain applications. These are computing problems and testing problems. It’s time to talk.