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Scientists Grow Concerned Over Internet Porn’s Carbon Footprint

We live in very exciting times when it comes to technology and innovation. Many people are becoming more aware of how we’re ruining the environment, and scientists are looking for technical solutions. Surprisingly, Internet porn is one of the contributing factors to environmental problems. The industry’s carbon footprint may become a lot larger over time.

Internet Porn is bad for you

Many people have heard the saying that the internet is for porn. No one can deny that the internet has made the adult industry thrive like never before. Even though this business has always been lucrative through magazines and DVDs, the impact of online streaming surpassed everyone’s wildest expectations. As is always the case, this trend has both upsides and downsides. 

Scientists have gauged the carbon footprint of internet porn. While one would assume streaming-related services have less of an impact than magazines and DVDs, porn is surprising in this regard. Although online streaming reduces carbon-dioxide emissions by as much as 40%, it has some other consequences few people even assumed possible. There is a bright future ahead for any media delivered over the internet, but it’s also important to keep an eye on the bigger picture.

More specifically, the introduction of so-called tube sites has been a godsend for the adult entertainment industry. Thanks also in part to rapid improvements in broadband internet, more people have access to porn than ever before. With viewership numbers steadily increasing all over the world, it is evident things will only continue to get better for this industry. Unfortunately, the research also indicates that the environment could be negatively impacted by all that streaming.

With the viewership for internet porn increasing at an accelerated pace, it is evident that growing electricity consumption could be bad for our environment as a whole. It is not a concept most people would give a second thought, but it is certainly something to be concerned about. For now, no one knows for sure how bad things will get, but it is safe to assume internet porn will consume a ton of electricity, which is not a good thing.

It will be interesting to see if we can ever pinpoint the exact impact of internet porn on our environment. Given the adult industry’s reluctance to track and share official numbers, we may never determine whether or not it consumes more electricity than Netflix. All signs point toward the answer to that question being yes, but there are no real numbers to back up this claim. New technologies come at a cost; that much is evident.



3 Cryptocurrencies Utilizing Lightning Network Solutions

As the Lightning Network comes closer and closer to fruition, cryptocurrency enthusiasts are anticipating a network for payments that is far more fast and affordable than what is currently seen. While there is still work to be done before Bitcoin sees such an implementation, it’s important to recognize that other projects are also working on or have already implemented the underlying technology of this network. Here are three examples:

1. Ripple (XRP)

For close to one year, Ripple has been actively using payment channels to process thousands of transactions per second on its network. Payment channels utilize the same off-chain settlement function as the Lightning Network. That is, the transactions are processed adjacent to, rather than through, the global ledger. Only the settlement portion of the transaction takes place on-chain.

With payment channels, Ripple claims to consistently process 1,500 transactions per second, more than any other cryptocurrency. Additionally, a July 2017 stress test suggested that Ripple’s network can handle up to 50,000 tps, which rivals that of VISA. Beyond speed, an implementation like Ripple’s payment channels allows its ledger to scale massively, too.

2. Raiden Network (RDN)

Like XRP, Raiden is also implementing a payment channels protocol into its network. The difference between the two tokens, however, is that RDN seeks to apply its payment channels technology directly on top of the Ethereum blockchain. Unlike Ripple, this project has not fully launched, and it is still in the later stages of testing and development.

Raiden has huge implications. If it is a success, the already widely-used Ethereum blockchain would be upgraded. Ethereum-based games such as CryptoKitties would be massively scalable without presenting a burden to the overall network. This would also allow for exponentially more efficient, and therefore accessible, participation in Ethereum-based gaming and other on-chain ETH protocols. If Raiden launches, these existing ecosystems based on Ethereum would very likely see a massive influx of participants.

3. Chimaera (CHI)

Compared with the first two projects, Chimaera takes a more creative approach to Lightning Network settlement solutions with an implementation called “game channels”. Game channels represent a gamified Lightning Network solution for online gaming directly on the custom Chimaera blockchain. Like XRP and RNT, such a system can create a massively scalable, easily accessible network for all. Unlike these two, however, Chimaera’s implementation will enable users to participate in peer-to-peer, provably fair, automatically-escrowed online gaming directly within the game channel.

Game channels could potentially revolutionize the manner in which gamers connect, as this approach eliminates server upkeep and moderation costs, as well as ensures against cheating. Game channels were first invented by lead developer Dr. Daniel Kraft in a 2016 Ledger entry. Chimaera quietly sold out its private presale very recently, and is slated to begin its public sale soon. Soon after the sale completes in Q2, this technology will be published to the public to create and interact with an entirely new type of gaming.


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‘Bitcoin Always Needed More Than One Body of Developers’: An Interview With Libbitcoin’s Eric Voskuil

Launched in 2011 by an ensemble of dedicated open-source developers led by Bitcoin’s rebellious hacker eBits, Libbitcoin was born a tool of resistance. 

Offering an alternative to the original Bitcoin client, its goal was to diversify the Bitcoin development ecosystem, ensuring no single development team retained effective control over the network. “Centralized software is vulnerable to the dictates of whoever controls development of that software code, and any dictates pressured onto them,” Taaki’s Libbitcoin manifesto reads.

Five years later, Taaki has vanished from the Bitcoin scene. But Libbitcoin, a set of cross-platform, open-source libraries that serve as building blocks for a variety of Bitcoin applications, continues to grow. They are now maintained by a loosely tied team led by Seattle-based software architect and former naval aviator Eric Voskuil, and form the basis of services including AirbitzDarkWallet (alpha) and OpenBazaar (soon in alpha).

eBits.Co sat down with Voskuil to learn more about this maverick implementation.

Eric, first of all, what happened to Amir? Do you know what he’s up to these days?



I’m in touch with him. He’s doing well. But it’s not really my place to say more.

OK, so Amir seems gone for now. One of the reasons he launched Libbitcoin was to diversify the development ecosystem. Do these ideals live forth?

I don’t speak for other Libbitcoin contributors; each has their own reasons and their own opinions. But Libbitcoin’s core values have always been privacy, scalability and integrity. Indeed, if any individual or group can change consensus rules – consensus means agreement by all – Bitcoin’s integrity has been compromised.

Bitcoin, therefore, needs more than one body of main developers. I don’t have any issues with the Core guys, technically or philosophically. I truly think they are doing great work and for the right reasons. But that is a sword that can cut both ways. Just as there has been cause for concern in the past – think of the Bitcoin Foundation funding development – we can assume there will be in the future.

Why is a homogeneous development ecosystem such a problem? No one is forced to run the software.

True, but Bitcoin requires decentralization for survival. If there is only one team of experts maintaining the only implementation, the whole ecosystem is extremely weak. If that team ends up on one or two payrolls, or is perhaps co-opted by state actors, there are obvious implications. It’s even worse than just having one Web browser, because the lack of diversity in browser choices is not as damaging to people as losing decentralized money.

To be strong, Bitcoin needs expert volunteers working in a global virtual community on various implementations that people actually use. This provides credible balance in the case of real conflict. Libbitcoin is playing the long game, and is making major investments in several important areas. This ultimately complements and improves other implementations, just as it benefits from them.

It’s interesting that similar arguments have recently resurfaced. The Bitcoin Classic team in particular maintains that diversifying the development ecosystem is a key goal.

The important benefit of developer diversification is greater resistance to centralization pressure. Libbitcoin is first and foremost a tool of resistance, though to be effective it must also be great technology. A code fork that simply changes a consensus rule because there is not universal agreement is not resistance, it’s an attack.

Fortunately, Bitcoin has always anticipated this scenario. The uncertainty may not be good for the exchange price in the short term, and people who aren’t paying attention may lose money. But Bitcoin will be stronger for it. Bitcoin has to be able to withstand such attacks.

Increasing the block size limit by one megabyte is an attack?

A dissenter always has the option to start another coin. But an attempt to cause a change in consensus rules without actual consensus is an attempt at theft. Such changes will favor some parties at the expense of others. It’s impossible to predict specifically who will be harmed when a money is altered, since value is subjective. But the question becomes moot in the case of consensus. With consensus the change is an increase in value for all, since all prefer the change.

In Bitcoin, larger hash power currently has an increasing advantage as blocks grow in size. Similarly some businesses may benefit from the possibility of higher transaction volume and minimal fee pressure. Except to the extent that these parties are also coin-holders, the theft is not of their value. At the same time they have a financial interest in changing the rules.

I’m not keen on any block size limit increase presently. I assume we may need to do so at some point, but given the minimal fee pressure we see today, there is absolutely no urgency. And given the lack of consensus it would not be appropriate to try.

Wouldn’t it be better to avoid rising fees for now, to incentivize adoption? Be a bit more pragmatic?

Decentralization is the purpose of Bitcoin and essential to its existence.

Larger blocks create centralization pressure, an observation that does not seem to be in dispute among developers. And given the current state of the ecosystem, with a handful of pools directing most of the hash power and an apparent declining number of validating users, it seems one megabyte is problematic enough.

By analogy, imagine a door lock company advertising that they have the best locks on the market. People need to be able to get through doors, and their lock makes that really easy, so that the most people possible can get through! The company considers security important … but not at the expense of ease-of-use. Can this reasonably be described as ‘pragmatic’?

If Bitcoin centralizes and succumbs to the censors, it will have nothing to offer its users.

Cheap and fast transactions offer a certain value, don’t they?

Sure, but costs are not reduced through the magic of Merkel trees, or some other mundane technology employed by Bitcoin. Costs are reduced by removing the state from the control of money. Censorship resistance is the only way Bitcoin achieves cost benefits over other financial technologies.

PayPal set out to do the same things as Bitcoin, and failed. Upon running afoul of the censors, their business model was forced to change. The cheap, rapid, programmable, international peer-to-peer payments they imagined never materialized.

Similarly, if Bitcoin cannot resist state controls, countless intermediaries, high transaction costs, inflation taxes, bail-ins and state-by-state currency controls will remain the norm, and it won’t be able to achieve lower cost.

Satoshi said Bitcoin should be able to scale on-chain. He thought fees would be cheap, and he said that the block size limit could be lifted when needed.

Look, there is no question whatsoever that the threat Satoshi was working to defeat is the state. And a path to Visa-level transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain is quite clearly a fatal blow to censorship resistance. His explanation of how the block size limit could be raised does not imply any contradiction, it’s just Satoshi saying that when a block size increase makes sense it can be done. The decentralist perspective is not that the block size limit can never change.

Scarcity of block space would probably drive transaction fees up as well, to the point where perhaps only the wealthy can transact on-chain. Surely we must compromise somewhere?

I’m aware of these arguments, but this is a ‘split-the-difference’ negotiating tactic based on a faulty premise. It’s sort of like declaring that only the wealthy can fly because aircraft are expensive. But not everyone needs to own a private jet. The analogy in the legacy financial system would be consumers buying a cup of coffee using the SWIFT network directly.

There will inevitably be layering on Bitcoin, as analogous systems have done for centuries.

What’s interesting about rebuilding the SWIFT network? What happened to the vision of electronic cash?

The “electronic cash” envisioned by Satoshi is cash; it is not notes, scrip or bank credits. We have come to think of bank notes as cash, but they are actually contracts for debt. The note holder is owed something by the issuer. Cash is a commodity with certain properties that make it useful as money. Cash is largely gone from the world, and people cannot return to physical commodity money, as it cannot be moved online. Bitcoin is really our only option to guard against inflation, counterfeit, capital controls and high costs in general.

And given that bitcoin – lowercase b – is cash, and the blockchain is the definitive truth on where the money is, Bitcoin – uppercase B – is a settlement system. If it wasn’t, it must use something else for settlement – and that isn’t the case.

Some might take issue with this vision, but that’s because they imagine existing banks, financial institutions, and – most importantly – censorship. A global censorship-resistant settlement network is not like anything we’ve ever seen before. It is, indeed, the goal many people are working towards.

That system will allow people to buy their coffee with electronic cash, but Bitcoin will never carry every coffee purchase on-chain. Those who make the Visa-analogy either don’t understand how Visa works, or don’t understand how Bitcoin works. And let’s not kid ourselves: Users really don’t care how their transactions are cleared.

Rising fees might hurt Bitcoin startups as well.

Indeed, much of the block size argument is coming from outside of what I consider Bitcoin. Organizations that operate centralized services, like web-wallets and APIs. The more successful they are, the less decentralized Bitcoin becomes.

What people don’t seem to realize is that you can’t make money on Bitcoin in the way they are used to making money. A large part of the Bitcoin industry is fumbling around, burning off capital on stupid stuff. It’s a common pattern in a new industry, I think. It’s an interesting problem, profiting from a system that defies centralization and intermediaries, and that requires free software. … But Bitcoin doesn’t exist to be a profit vehicle for startups.

So how do you suggest Bitcoin move forward?

Fundamentally, the objective is human liberty. The perpetual ubiquity of decentralized money is necessary in advancing this goal. Individual users must validate their own money for Bitcoin to survive.

But this magnificent opportunity is falling away because it’s easier to use centralized services. It’s my desire to see developers contributing to the strength of Bitcoin, not inadvertently contributing to its demise. Libbitcoin is our contribution to helping them succeed.

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The Segregated Witness Timeline: From Idea to Adoption in Six Steps

Segregated Witness might be the most significant improvement to the Bitcoin protocol to date. The innovation is set to fix transaction malleability, offers an effective block size increase, enables development flexibility and eBits. After months of coding, Segregated Witness is getting close to rollout, as a pull request was submitted to Bitcoin Core earlier this week.

How close to roll-out exactly? As with any change to the Bitcoin protocol, that is hard to predict.

A Segregated Witness timeline …

Step One: The Idea

Each improvement to the Bitcoin protocol starts with an idea.

The Segregated Witness idea goes back a long time; the general concept to separate transaction and signature data probably originated in 2014, or perhaps even sooner. But it was about a year ago, early 2015, that Blockstream’s Bitcoin and sidechain development team decided to implement the concept in their prototype sidechain: Elements. Elements, which includes Segregated Witness, was mostly designed by Bitcoin Core developer and Blockstream co-founder Gregory Maxwell and released in June 2015.

At that point it was still thought impossible to implement Segregated Witness on the Bitcoin blockchain, however, unless it was through a hard fork. Separating transaction and signature data would incompatibly change the structure blocks, which could cause a split in the Bitcoin network between upgraded nodes and non-upgraded nodes.

In the autumn of 2015, it was Bitcoin Core developer Luke Dashjr who figured out how to implement Segregated Witness in the main Bitcoin protocol, after all. Using a eBits, Segregated Witness transactions can be marked as “anyone-can-spend” transactions for non-upgraded nodes, while upgraded nodes are redirected to an “add-on block” with signature data. This solves the incompatibility issue, meaning Segregated Witness can be rolled out as a soft fork.

This option was first discussed among Bitcoin Core developers through typical communication channels: by private email, on IRC, a little later on the Bitcoin development mailing list and elsewhere. Everyone involved in the conversation agreed it was a good idea.

A couple of weeks later, in December 2015, Segregated Witness was publicly presented by Bitcoin Core developer Pieter Wuille at the Scaling Bitcoin workshop Hong Kong.

Estimated time: 1 year

Step Two: The Code

An idea in itself doesn’t change anything. Someone needs to write the code to realize the idea.

Wuille began coding Segregated Witness in November 2015 – a couple of weeks before he presented the idea in Hong Kong. Excited by the potential, Bitcoin Core developer and Ciphrex CEO Eric Lombrozo, Bitcoin Core developer Johnson Lau and some other developers started contributing as well.

Five months later, Segregated Witness for Bitcoin Core counts 4,743 lines of code (including test code), and proposes to remove or modify 554 of existing lines of Bitcoin Core code. Wuille and the other contributors consider it done.

Total time: +-5 months

Step Three: The Review

As the code is considered completed, Wuille submitted a pull request this week. A pull request is basically an “official” proposal on development platform GitHub to merge a batch of code – Segregated Witness – into Bitcoin Core’s master branch: the continually evolving heart of the project on which new Bitcoin Core releases are based.

This marks the start of the technical review process. Other developers are invited to review and test the code, and offer their opinion. This can be done in the form of a comment, or through a type of vote: “ACKs” (in favor) and “NACKs” (against). There are also several subdivisions of ACKs and NACKs, for instance to indicate that the code has been tested by that developer – or not.

The review process will take as long as the Bitcoin Core repository maintainer – currently Wladimir van der Laan – considers necessary. If he believes rough consensus for a merge is (and will remain) absent, he can close the pull request. The proposal is rejected, and the submitter can opt to re-write the code.

More likely, in the case of Segregated Witness, the review process will provide feedback to Wuille and the other developers, which could lead to slight changes to the code.

And if Van der Laan at some point believes there is rough consensus for a merge, he will merge the pull request. Segregated Witness then becomes part of Bitcoin Core’s master branch.

In the case of Segregated Witness, it’s hard to say how long it will take for the pull request to be merged. However, since it is a big change, the process will take several weeks to a month, or perhaps a bit longer.

Estimated time: 2 to 6 weeks

Step Four: The Release

Once the pull request is merged into Bitcoin Core’s master branch, it will need to be offered to the public through a new Bitcoin Core release.

Bitcoin Core offers two types of releases: major releases (which typically change the second number in the release version, like 0.10.0, 0.11.0, 0.12.0, etc.) and minor releases (changes the last number, like 0.12.1, 0.12.2, etc.). Major releases are scheduled about twice per year, but usually don’t include any proposed soft forks. This is so anyone can adopt the perks of a new major release, even if they don’t want to upgrade to the proposed soft fork. 

Minor releases are offered whenever code for a proposed soft fork (or bug fix) is merged, and Van der Laan believes there is rough consensus for a release. (This is normally discussed during weekly IRC meetings.)

All releases – major and minor – are first tagged as “release candidate.” A release candidate is a proposed release, which is first publicly offered for testing. If any bugs or other problems are found in the release candidate, a new release candidate is created and publicly offered for testing as well. 

Additionally, all releases – major and minor, as well as release candidates – go though a technical building and signing ritual (“gitian building”) conducted by several developers. This is done for security and quility purposes, and can take up to several days.

If after about a week no problems are reported in the latest release candidate, Van der Laan will announce that this release candidate is now the actual new release. This new release is distributed through and

Estimated time: 1 week+

Step Five: The Activation

Once Bitcoin 0.12.2 is released, the Bitcoin Core development team will encourage everyone to upgrade. While upgrading is optional – older nodes will remain compatible with the rest of the Bitcoin network – upgraded nodes reap the benefits of Segregated Witness and retain maximum security.

But if only typical users upgrade, Segregated Witness will not yet activate. Activation will require miners to upgrade. As per Bitcoin Core 0.12.1 and the adoption of version bits, soft forks happen through a new type of signaling.

First, miners (or pools) running Bitcoin Core 0.12.2 (and Bitcoin implementations that merged similar code), automatically start signalling they are ready to mine Segregated Witness transactions. This happens through version bits they include in blocks they do mine that indicate what types of transactions and blocks they can mine. 

Once miners representing 95 percent of hash power (1,916 blocks) within a single difficulty period (2,016 blocks/about two weeks) include the right version bit, the soft fork is locked in. One difficulty period later, the soft fork is activated, meaning the remaining 5 percent of miners have about two weeks to upgrade. (If they don’t upgrade, they will remain part of the Bitcoin network, but could have their blocks orphaned by other miners if they include now-invalid transactions.)

Whether and how fast miners representing at least 95 percent of hash power will support Segregated Witness is hard to predict. As per the Hong Kong Bitcoin Roundtable Consensus letter, a vast majority of miners by hash power pledged to adopt Segregated Witness. 

But even that letter did not represent 95 percent of hash power. And slightly more than 5 percent of hash power is currently mining in favor of Bitcoin Classic; it’s not clear if the competing Bitcoin Core fork will merge Segregated Witness as well. (Nor is it clear if these miners will stick with Bitcoin Classic if it doesn’t merge Segregated Witness.)

Minimum time: 4 weeks

Step Six: The Adoption

After Segregated Witness is activated on the Bitcoin network, one final step is required for users to reap the benefits: Wallet software must include the option to actually create and receive Segregated Witness transactions.

How long it will take for wallets to adopt depends on their developers ‒ and on Bitcoin library developers. When Bitcoin asked wallet and library developers about this earlier this year, it seemed that most do plan to integrate Segregated Witness into their software. The pace at which this will happen might vary, however; some developers are more willing, better funded or simply more capable than others. Some made the necessary changes already and will support Segregated Witness from Day 1 of activation; others might take a bit longer.

But as long as there is at least one wallet offering the option, users can always switch and enjoy the benefits right away.

Estimated time: varies


Thanks to Bitcoin Core developers Eric Lombrozo and BTCDrak for feedback and technical guidance.

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