[messaging] Do Blockchains solve Zooko's triangle? (was: Another Take At Public Key Distribution)

Phillip Hallam-Baker phill at hallambaker.com
Wed Sep 16 14:18:59 PDT 2015

On Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 8:02 AM, Jae Kwon <jae at tendermint.com> wrote:

> Blockchains should solve Zooko's triangle, but in reality none do yet.  I
> believe that Tendermint has the potential to solve it for good, given its
> consensus algorithm design.

BlockChains with a proof of work cost billions of dollars a year to operate
and offer negligible practical security advantage over a well constructed
hash-chain without a proof of work.

All the strength comes from the idea of chaining the output of the last
hash in the chain into the input to the next. That is Harber and
Stornetta's catenate certificate and it is 20+ years old (and out of

Almost anything that is done by the blockchain can be done by ten
independent notaries maintaining logs that cross-notarize every hour. Sure
there might be a theoretical possibility that all ten will collude but that
can be made a rather smaller practical possibility than the 51% type
attacks on the blockchain.

In other words, the blockchain is like someone who takes a really valuable
gem stone like a huge diamond, sticks it in a cheap ring and then boasts
about how sparkly his ring is. Yup, but it isn't the ring that is making
the pretty, it is the diamond and that was there before you started.
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