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Current Events: 2022

Crypto + Time < Crypto

It seems that every day, we are getting better reporting and research to illustrate the fragile houses of cards we know as blockchain and Bitcoin. I’ve enjoyed tracking and sharing some of the choicest tidbits as postscripts to my first article on the subject.

I am troubled by the confidence that many people have in these technologies. Here’s what I tell those people:

Cryptocurrency is everything money professionals don’t understand about money combined with everything computer professionals don’t understand about computers.

This week’s most revealing academic work, which was nicely summarized in the The New York Times, highlighted the ‘decentralization theater’ that underpins Bitcoin. It is a must-read if you wish to stay on top of the latest in the ongoing dialog. What it also highlights, in its final paragraph, is something that we mustn’t lose sight of, and which I have attempted to summarize in my pithy headline for this post: what is encrypted today is not likely to stay encrypted tomorrow. Have a taste for what the authors were able to achieve from their research, and then understand that we are not too far away from quantum cryptography that brings us even closer to all of the details of the Bitcoin blockchain, and you begin to see how much “bunk” we are all being served.

You might like to take comfort in the fact that NIST is working on Post-Quantum Cryptography, but what does that portend for the contents of today’s blockchains? Some people project that we will move our crypto assets to newer technologies, but the remnants of today’s transactions will remain ripe tomorrow’s analysis. Even technology providers like IronCore Labs, who offer solutions in “crypto agility” (which, on the surface, sounds like a very good thing) will tell you that “That data is public and copies of it exist around the world. There’s no way to protect that data if an algorithm is broken or weakened, and that data will still be there twenty years from now. The future of blockchain in a post-quantum world is concerning.”

All of which is to say that, as a career CTO & CIO, I find that so much of our time is spent in the role of goalie to help deter the pucks being thrown at our organizations and their employees. It’s a tiring role because the situations we are protecting our organizations from are so much more complex than they used to be. Anecdotally, it is the minority of software and IT professionals who truly understand the holes in what’s going on right now; many are just as susceptible to the rhetoric behind the technologies as the neophyte on the street. All of this is ultimately demoralizing, because our time would be vastly better-spent — in almost all cases I can think of — on strategic things.

Goalies unite! The best tool in our arsenal is a public discourse to support one another as we fend off the bad information on a journey toward the good. Share these articles we find (as this site does so well), and continue to be critical of the bunk being hurled at us every single day.

James Reimer

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🎹 Music for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnbQFVxiSmk.

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