Bitcoin Swatting in New York

ServingJustice is a hacker who released key personal information about a judge in New York, Katherine Forrest, to protest the trial she is handling of Ross Ulbritch, the suspected owner of Silk Road, a digital site that was used to trade narcotics. “I hope some drug cartel that lost money with the seizure of Silk Road will murder this lady and her entire family.” This anonymous hacker is certainly a young high IQ male with an anarchist pose, given the language and the fairly recent tradition of swatting or phoning in false alarms to ensure a swat team or other police force surrounds the house of, for example, someone who is beating you in a video game, as recently happened. That someone with a high degree of computing skills also possesses such a low degree of any sense of civic purpose, is a real problem with the emerging decentralized digital currencies, featuring Bitcoin but including others as well. Swindlers, drug dealers, utopian radicals, and computer-literate misfits co-exist with businessmen and women willing to invest in their schemes in the expectation of widespread adoption sometime soon.

Why all the fuss? Aside from the fact that someone has perhaps endangered the life of a member of the judiciary, we once again have the seemingly gravity-free, as in free of any moral gravity, world of programmers, or that part of the programming community that think that because they can write an application for Bitcoin the laws of the civilized world that have been built up over centuries don't apply to them. That they label themselves anarchists is more than just a convenience. History, especially in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, has shown that the anarchist's utopia is a horrifyingly dangerous delusion. And it is precisely in Barcelona where the enfant terrible of Bitcoin, Amir Taaki, is currently living. In an anarchist squat to top it off. Amair Taaki is the guy who developed Dark Wallet, a platform that allows users to exchange digital currencies with far greater anonymity. When asked what he thought of terrorist groups, or money launderers using Dark Wallet to finance their activities, Amir stated it did not really bother him in the least. He even promotes Dark Wallet's use as a money laundering tool. In a further interview he waxed poetic about our hunter-gatherer stage and how we were more truly human then, as well as waxing lyrical about contract law and the power of mathematics. Would you trust this brainy bonkers radical to run your financial system? Because that's what he wants to do essentially. The problem is, decentralized digital currencies are revolutionary and like any revolution they consume their own sooner or later. The only way forward for digital currencies is to negotiate in a reasonable and productive manner with the rest of society's institutions. Including the Judiciary. It's called settled law and that vindictive little twerp who swatted Judge Forrest needs to use some of his IQ to understand that.

Posted by Keeley at October 27, 2014 9:37 PM
Comment #384625

I don’t agree with this guy’s opinion, but I’m not going to be the one to insist he be locked up for expressing it. Had he said he would pay someone to murder the judge and her family, that’s another story. That’s a solicitation others would take seriously and so should the public.

We recently had a discussion about the education of our children and the tools to be used to accomplish that task. Some were supporting the use of computers to teach children how to write. They also supported the use of calculators to teach children how to add and subtract. Others argued the art of writing with a pencil and the ability to do math using the brain are fundamental prerequisites to literacy. Without these fundamentals a person could find themselves illiterate and helpless because of a power outage.

Bitcoins, or digital currency, isn’t real. As with a faux education with calculators, digital currency can disappear just like a calculator’s math skills will disappear when it has no power.

The value of currency needs a benchmark, a standard that everything else of value is weighed. Many people believe the U.S. Dollar has value. It does, but that value is as intangible as any other digital currency. The U.S. Dollar is a digital currency. A small percentage of those dollars are actual cash, the token made of cloth, but the value of that token is based on it’s digital status, not on anything tangible.

If someone showed you a dollar and asked you how much it was worth, you would have to ask at what time are you making the assessment, because at any given time the dollar is worth more or less of something. The actual answer to the question of worth is nothing. A dollar in cash is worth nothing. The faith people have in that piece of cloth is something else entirely.

The subject matter of the post is all over the map, but every bad behavour expressed in the post can be facilitated using the dollar as a currency as well as bitcoins. My concerns are more on the line in what would happen if the power went out on our digital currency. What would our debit card be worth if there were no electricity? Would anyone have full faith in a credit card if there was no way to check it’s value? Would we have to make a down payment on a house with a truckload of token cloth dollars?

Programmers are aware of the need for a backup procedure in case the electricity/computer goes down. It’s called the manual system. It’s usually the system used before the computer was installed. That system must remain intact. Does our currency have a backup system? What would be the backup system if faith in the dollar was lost or an E.M.P. took out our electric grid? In those situations the U.S. Dollar would be just as valuable as any other digital currency. It would have no value.

Posted by: Weary Willie at October 28, 2014 5:28 PM
Comment #384646

I watched The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin on Netflix the other day. Interesting stuff including the parts about Silk Road. If any of these digital currencies start to compete with the banks they will just get squashed. Or hacked… Or investigated…..

Me I’m just going to convert to col√≥ns and be done with it.

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Comment #385347
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