Telephone and the Blockchain
The security of an individual Bitcoin address is well-documented and an awesome mathematical certainty. But what about the security of sending Bitcoin to somebody? Is there a mythical CEO of Bitcoin somewhere, warding off would-be hackers who might attempt to steal your funds through a man-in-the-middle attack? What guarantees the absolute certainty of your transactions? Quite frankly, mathematics!
Why the Telephone Game Fails
In a telephone game with thirty people, there are thirty separate, singular points of failure. This is a very important point, because even though the players in this game can be honest, all it takes is just one dishonest person to wreck the honest intentions of others. If one of the players decides to be that guy and wreck the game by sharing the wrong message, no one will know who threw the game. Since each whisper transaction is peer to peer, each player puts their trust in the preceding person to relay the correct message.
Change the Rules!
How could we fix the rules of the telephone game to ensure that it could never fail, keeping in mind the above issues? Instead of thirty people sitting in a circle, let’s start the game with one person in the room. This person creates a message, and then another person is allowed to enter the room and hear the message. We then change the rules so that no whisper will take place between just two individuals. We bring in an independent group of 100 observers to assist. This independent committee records on a piece of paper information related to each whisper, including:
This post was published at Lets Talk Bitcoin on September 4th, 2014.