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Proof of Work: Satoshi’s Treasure, a global hunt for 1 million dollars in BTC

by Eric Meltzer

April 18, 2019, 5:27AM EDT  ·  21 min read
Benjamin Friedrich | The Block

Quick Take

  • Satoshi’s Treasure is a global hunt for 1 million dollars in BTC
  • The immediate response has been overwhelming with the encryption around key location broken in just 30 minutes
  • Many teams have been formed to play the online/offline game, which utilizes Shamir’s secret sharing

by Eric Meltzer

April 18, 2019, 5:27AM EDT  ·  21 min read

The following newsletter is republished with permission from Eric Meltzer of Primitive Ventures, a global venture investment firm with a focus on blockchain and related technologies. You can follow Eric on Twitter at @wheatpond and subscribe here to Proof of Work


Good afternoon from sunny but ridiculously windy Boston.

When I found out about Bitcoin in 2013, it felt like stumbling into a parallel reality. I grew up on a strict diet of cyberpunk scifi and it felt like something straight out of a Gibson or Sterling book—I couldn’t stop reading about how the protocol worked, how people were using it (shoutout SatoshiDice!) and what effects it might start to have on the global community.

Since then, as FinanceBros and other establishment critters descended on the space, a lot of what happened with Bitcoin was exciting to me an investor, but frankly boring as a child of the Neuromancer/Snow Crash era of scifi.

In the course of exploring custody solutions for Primitive with Dovey, I learned about Shamir’s secret sharing, an algorithm that allows you to take a secret string of text and split it into m pieces, of which n are required to reconstitute the original “secret.” Invented by Adi Shamir (the “S” in “RSA”) in 1979, SSS is a time-tested piece of pretty simple cryptography, but it enables a lot of cool things. The more I played around with it, the more I wanted to use it as the basis for a game, an epic hunt for Bitcoin that would be spread around the world.

Long story short, we assembled an amazing team, and yesterday sent out the first clue (via the Blockstream satellite, shoutout @grubles!) that kicked off a global hunt for 1 million dollars in BTC. The response has been absolutely overwhelming. People showed up to the 10 spots we indicated around the world where keys would appear en masse—some drove over 3 hours to get to a spot. Others figured out how to brute force the encryption we used and solved the clues without having to travel (something which we hoped would happen, but thought would take weeks—in reality it took 30 minutes..)

People are forming teams, talking strategy, speculating on the value of keys and where the next clues will show up… and our hypothesis that Bitcoin and cryptography enable a new type of online/offline game experience seems to be getting validated. Subreddits are being created. Telegram groups are forming. Our poor mongoDB is getting hammered with signups. We’re all a bit exhausted after this first day, but we’re also incredibly excited to see what people do with the next set of clues.

Small housekeeping update: we now order PoW updates by EricRank, a proprietary algorithm that produces an ordinal ranking based on how interesting Eric finds a given update. It’s prone to false negatives, but it feels better than the old way where some of the coolest projects (Hi OpenBazaar! Maker! Sia!) are permanently relegated to the bottom of the update. Let me know if you guys like this better, or prefer the old format.

More next week, thanks as always for reading.


China & Asia Updates

Mining 🔨

  • Bitmain S19 (53T) sold out in 4 mins. However, some believe this was a show to make it appear as though it was in high demand. The actual sales number is unknown

  • Whatsminer launched their flagship M20S (68T) the same day in Shenzhen, expected shipment around July

  • The so-called “mining ban” last week does not impact ANYTHING on the ground, period. [ed: dovey tells it like it is]

  • $LTC hashrate hit ATH before, while $BSV continues to drop. Network hashrate is the only security guarantee for a PoW coin, and a clear indicator of where miner confidence lies. $LTC has a very strong miner community in Asia, second to $BTC

Trading 💰

  • The biggest bank in Japan, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, started the trial of its yen pegged stable coin “MUFG coin” last week. Over 10k of its banking customers participated in the trial

  • It’s said that over half of the newly issued $200M tether were distributed to Chinese traders through a few local brokers [ed: I also heard this independently, seems likely]

Regulation 🚧

  • Many lending or OTC desks in China which turned out to be Ponzi schemes are now on the verge of blowing up, so be careful if you are dealing with any

  • China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) urged further investigation into illegal fundraising activities involving cryptocurrency and other commonly used concepts. The use of cryptocurrency is common in local ponzi schemes. A formal legislative bill will be out in a few months. But to be honest, I rarely see any regulatory action from China impact the macro crypto market, unless it plans to fully legalize crypto and revert what it banned before

Misc 🤓

  • Star Xu, the founder of OKEx, stepped down as the legal representative of OKEx’s operating entity in mainland China. Doing so sort of de-risked himself from any criminal charges that might be lobbied towards OKEx on the mainland

  • Tencent launched a Pokémon Go -like LBS game called “Let’s hunt the beat together” powered by its blockchain platform TrustSQL to enable gaming features similar to CryptoKitties

Korea

  • Government regulation continues to stifle exchanges by blocking new customers from making fiat deposits to exchange accounts. Korean companies are also not allowed to deposit to exchanges for fear of money laundering.

  • Crypto-collateralized lending is considered to be a banking service and thus restricted, so it has not been as active in Korea as it has in the US.

  • Any sort of crypto derivatives trading is illegal. In the past, Coinone tried to launch a 4x BTC token and it was banned.

JZ from Decred

Decred is an autonomous digital currency with a hybrid consensus system. It is built to be a self-ruling currency where everyone can vote on the rules and project-level decision making proportionately to their stake.

  • It’s happening! Marco has released his proposal outlining a DAE (Decentralized Autonomous Entity) that would have full control over the Decred project treasury. To protect against a wide variety of attacks there will be a two-fold process needed to release funds; a draft spending proposal will need to be signed by a Politeia identity key (off-chain) followed by the stakeholders approving the transfer through a vote (on-chain) much the way consensus votes are effectuated. Some more details were provided in an interview with Marco that was published by Invest in Blockchain this week.

  • We’re psyched to be hosting our second San Francisco Decred meet up on April 18. Coinbase has been gracious enough to provide a venue for us, and Decred dev Luke Powell will be giving a talk on governance and funding in Decred, followed by a seminar on the broader topic of cryptocurrency funding models.

  • The March edition of the Decred Journal is out. This issue marks a year of amazing work by bee the editor who manages the journal, and who a few of us suspect might actually be a small team of anonymous contributors.

  • On the Politeia front, the stakeholders authorized a budget to fund integration work for Trust Wallet. As it turns out the Trust Wallet team has already completed most of the work. If someone is looking to cut their teeth on a Go project relating to Decred and earn some coins in the process we’re looking to have a dev do the final piece of the integration which involves adding Decred support to Trezor Blockbook. We’re always looking for motivated devs so don’t hesitate to reach out.

David from Sia

Sia is a decentralized cloud storage platform leveraging blockchain technology to create a data storage marketplace that is more robust and more affordable than traditional cloud storage providers.

  • Release Progress: 1.4.1: The Sia team and various community contributors have been squashing various bugs in Sia and Sia-UI including bugs around file renaming, memory leaks, and using the `siac` utility.

  • Community contributor geo-gs got an interesting bit of code merged in to Sia this week. His Merge Request titled “Add Genesis Siacoin Allocation” sets up Sia to be more easily forked from the genesis block for use in other Crypto projects supporting an Airdrop. Just to clarify, this is a fork of Sia, and Sia is not airdropping any coins; this MR simply makes it easier to fork and airdrop coins for projects based off Sia.

  • Nebulous is hiring for 5 new positions. Check them out here.

  • Community member tbenz9 wrote a blog post on how to secure your wallet, renters, and hosts.

Coulter from MakerDAO

Maker is comprised of a decentralized stablecoin, collateral loans, and community governance.

  • We have another testnet release for Multi-Collateral Dai. A full rundown of what’s been updated can be read here

  • We have introduced a DIY Meetup program and micro-grants initiative. If you’re a fan of Maker and want to meet with others in your region to talk about Dai, check it out.

  • Announced upgrades to the Maker Ecosystem Foundation structure.

  • At The Bold Awards, we won Best ICO/Cryptocurrency (though we never had an ICO so we’ll focus on the latter). 

  • Dai is now integrated into Origin Protocol, allowing you to pay for goods or services with our decentralized stablecoin. 

Arnaud from AZTEC Protocol

AZTEC Protocol is an efficient zero-knowledge protocol built on top of Ethereum, making plug-and-play value transmission and asset governance privacy tools for developers and companies. 

  • Last week we officially started the first of our two audits. During our prep run, we reached 96% test coverage, and fixed a couple of important bugs.

  • This week, we are working on 2 new proofs: public range proofs and private range proofs, which allow AZTEC assets to test whether an encrypted balance is worth more, or less than either a public balance or a private balance. 
    This is used for assets which have minimum/maximum notionals for trades, or maximum/minimum ownership requirements for asset holders.

  • This week we’ve also started work on the trustless post-processing step of our trusted setup. We’ll be publishing more information soon.

  • We’re still hiring for two cryptographers to join the team. You can apply here, or by emailing [email protected] with the name of the role as the subject

Ari from Decentraland

Decentraland is a virtual world where you can build and explore 3D creations, play games and socialize. [ed: decentraland has managed to get a serious community together and people are making some pretty beautiful things. I’m a fan]

  • The Creator Contest for the Builder concluded with around 10,000 unique submissions!

  • Since the Creator Contest, the Builder now has several UX improvements and bug fixes: a redesigned project overview page and mobile site, and we are finishing an import/export feature allowing scenes to be transferred between the SDK and the Builder.

Zaki from Cosmos

The Cosmos Network is a decentralized network of independent, scalable, and interoperable blockchains.

  • We anticipate governance proposal 3 will pass on April 17th and layout the procedure for the first network upgrade to enable transfers between on April 19th or soon after.

  • Code is complete for the proposed upgrade of the Hub.

  • We are very excited about Cosmos SDK chain Terra opens sourcing their chain.

  • Lino: A Cosmos SDK powered chain with ~800k registered on the Dlive App has done about 12 million transactions and recently announced PewDiePie moved to their platform. We are appreciating all the performance stress testing data coming back from these users.

  • On the Inter Blockchain Communication specification front, we merged high level documents on the design goals and architecture of IBC

Optech on Bitcoin [ed: sign up for their newsletter too! it’s great!]

James from Summa

Summa builds tools to exchange crypto in a convenient and trustless fashion.

  • This week we released riemann-ledger, a simple Python library for signing Bitcoin transactions using a Ledger hardware wallet

  • Zeta got a major version to allow use by multiple applications. We also trimmed the electrum server whitelist to mitigate the effect of the recent Electrum DoS attacks

  • We just released an in-depth exploration of standardness in Bitcoin. Transaction standardness controls what transactions normal users can put into blocks

Aviv from Spacemesh

Spacemesh is a programmable cryptocurrency powered by a novel proof-of-space-time consensus protocol.

Johnny from Stellar

Stellar is an open network for sending and exchanging value of any kind. Its global network enables digitization of assets – from carbon credits to currencies – and enables movement around the internet with ease.

  • Core: Stellar Core v11.0.0 is planned to be released on 4/25, with a soft release on testnet on 4/15 or 4/16 based on release of snapshot.

  • Core: Stellar Core v11.1.0 is planned for a mid May release, with a continued focus on performance related fixes.

  • Platform: New Go SDK is currently being dogfooded, with a plan to release more widely in the next few weeks.

  • Platform: Initial work on new Horizon ingestion service has begun — most Q2 efforts will be around creating a separate, pluggable system from the Horizon API service.

  • Kelp: Kelp UI is currently in progress, along with initial refactor of the Stellar ticker.

Izaak from Coda

Coda is the first cryptocurrency protocol with a constant-sized blockchain. Coda compresses the entire blockchain into a tiny snapshot the size of a few tweets using recursive zk-SNARKs.

  • Deepthi halved the latency between when a transaction is confirmed and when it is folded in to the succinct blockchain.

  • Brandon and Avery have begun working on our desktop wallet! UX is a priority so if you have feature requests please make an issue.

  • Corey has spec’d out our libp2p integration. This will make it possible for browser-tab nodes to connect to the gossip net and get the succinct blockchain directly.

  • I made a SNARK function “more deterministic” using a trick I learned from Dan Boneh. The PR has an example of the kind of semantic reasoning about SNARK programs I think people should be practicing.

Ryan from FOAM

FOAM is building spatial applications and proof of location that bring geospatial data to blockchains and empower a consensus driven map of the world.

  • Started work on a new Curator Dashboard page for Cartographers to better track the outcome of challenges, in addition to the daily digest and email notifications 

  • Integrating 3Box NFT badges into the leaderboard 

  • Announced first Cartographer badge for top mapper of April

  • Announced a new FOAM Map Treasure hunt game in collaboration with Blockcities. A prize will be issued weekly to the Cartographer that solved the clue and adds the correct point https://www.blockcities.co/hunt

  • Progress on our Plasma demo MVP 

Paige & Zooko from Zcash

Zcash is a digital currency utilizing zk-SNARKs to enable its privacy-protecting properties.

Mitchell from Monero

Monero is a open-source, privacy-focused cryptocurrency using the ASIC-resistant CryptoNote PoW algorithm. It enforces all privacy features at the protocol level to ensure that all transactions create a single fungible anonymity pool.

  • Monero had a bug with the Ledger device that had possible loss of funds due to incorrect change address, but the bug has been fixed, and all money that was lost has been recovered due to clever math.

  • Ledger is now safe to use provided the user is:

        – Using GUI v0.14.0.0 (or CLI v0.14.0.2)

        – Using Ledger Monero app v1.2.2

        – Using Ledger Live firmware v1.5.5 or v1.6.0

Daniel from Grin

Grin is a community-driven implementation of the Mimblewimble protocol that aims to be privacy preserving, scalable, fair, and minimal.

Evan from Ethereum

Ethereum is a decentralized platform for applications that aims to resist fraud, censorship or third-party interference.

Peter from NEAR

NEAR is a sharded proof-of-stake blockchain.

  • NEAR is improving developer experience and researching a new model of staking

    • 25 PRs in nearcore from 6 different authors

    • Hosted two events with Cosmos and Fluence

    • Application/Dev layer

    • Blockchain Layer

      • Alex began discussion around a new model of sharding called Whale Fishing.

      • Added testing infrastructure and improved testing coverage. 

AJ from Tezos

Tezos is a self-amending blockchain that features formally verified smart contracts, on-chain governance, and a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm which enables all token holders to participate in the network. 

Topper from Quorum Control

Tupelo is a permissionless proof of stake DLT platform purpose-built to model individual objects that enables flexible public or private data models.

Michael from Loom

Loom Network is a platform for building highly scalable DPoS sidechains to Ethereum, with a focus on large-scale games and social apps.

Myles from EOS

EOS is a new blockchain architecture designed to enable vertical and horizontal scaling of decentralized applications.

Kate and Dean from Agoric

Founded by pioneers in secure development and distributed systems, Agoric uses a secure subset of JavaScript to enable object capabilities and smart contracts.

  • We merged in a number of small pull requests this week and have been working on better tutorials for our “SwingSet” vat platform for testing out smart contracts. Some of the pull requests included:

    • Using the realms-shim repo in SES rather than the TC39 Realms proposal specification repo.

    • Deleting a property called “domain” that the Node.js REPL adds to promises. When SES tries to harden (deep freeze) all of the objects provided by Node.js, it notices that it didn’t expect the “domain” property and purposefully errors to avoid a potential vulnerability.

Antonio from dYdX

dYdX is a decentralized exchange for margin trading, borrowing, lending, and eventually derivatives. dYdX allows traders to trustlessly short and get leverage on crypto assets.

  • Gearing up for the launch of our new product, stay tuned for an announcement later this week!

Brendan from Dharma

Dharma is the easiest place to borrow and lend cryptocurrencies. It enables non-custodial peer-to-peer lending through smart contracts on Ethereum.

  • In Dharma’s first week open to the public, users borrowed over 1M USD and lent over 1.4M USD. This volume was primarily denominated in Dai, as users levered up their ETH holdings.

  • We’re hiring full stack developers in SF. No crypto experience necessary. If interested, shoot us an email ([email protected] or [email protected]dharma.io) or apply here

Lazar from MARKET Protocol

MARKET Protocol is a framework for creating tokens that track prices of traditional or digital assets.

  • Added variable fee structure to solidity contracts

  • Completed user account administration

  • Bug fixes and backend infrastructure clean up

  • Fixed email service integration with MPX and our website

  • Updated privacy policy and terms & conditions on our website

Robert from Compound

Compound is a money market protocol on the Ethereum blockchain — allowing individuals, institutions, and applications to frictionlessly earn interest on or borrow cryptographic assets without having to negotiate with a counterparty or peer.

  • Deployed Compound v2 to Rinkeby testnet

  • Announced testing instructions

Rahul from 0x

0x is an open protocol that enables the peer-to-peer exchange of assets on the Ethereum blockchain.

  • 0x Roadmap 2019 part 4: Proposal for Stake-based Liquidity Incentives

  • Detailed economic analysis here; our R&D lead Peter explaining the proposal here

  • Reddit AMA going through community questions and concerns

Tony from Liquidity.Network

Liquidity Network is a transfer and swap platform for any token

Dong Mo from Celer

Celer Network is a layer-2 scaling platform that enables fast, easy and secure off-chain transactions for not only payment transactions, but also generalized off-chain smart contracts.

  • We finished CelerX Javascript SDK for solo game developers and the first CelerX platform-compatible game. 

  • We are preparing for CelerX game internal release and are doing some advanced UI research from our users. 

  • Testing CelerX and fixing bugs for upcoming Private Alpha release.

  • We enhanced the scalability of the boolean pay flow. 

  • Code and process improvements for Celer backend deployments.

Alexandra from Parity Technologies

Parity Technologies builds core blockchain infrastructure, from Parity Ethereum, an Ethereum client, to Polkadot, an interoperable blockchain network.

Wes from Theta

Theta is an end-to-end infrastructure for decentralized video streaming.

  • Released Pre-Guardian Node client, an early onboarding tool ahead of Theta’s Guardian Node functionality coming in Q3 2019

  • Support for Trezor wallet for Theta mainnet at command-line interface level

  • Introduced new algorithm for peer to peer stream sharing for sub-optimal networking conditions 

Doug from Livepeer

Livepeer is a decentralized video infrastructure network, dramatically reducing prices for developers and businesses building video streaming applications at scale. 

Bowen from Hydro/DDEX.io

Hydro Protocol is an open source framework for building Decentralized Exchanges. DDEX is the first decentralized exchange for Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens built on the Hydro Protocol.

Sam from OpenBazaar

OpenBazaar is an open source project developing a protocol for e-commerce transactions in a fully decentralized marketplace.

  • The 2.3.3 release candidate, and hopefully full release, will be published this week. This includes an IPFS rebase and changes to routing, which will improve speed significantly.

  • Haven app work continues and is undergoing internal testing before the open beta testing.

  • The code to improve precision on the server side for Ethereum integration is completed and being reviewed now.