Darwin Revisited: Do Better Crypto Currencies Prevail?

Our job is security engineering. We criticise some bad insecure or otherwise imperfect solutions and promote solutions which make them better, more robust, more secure, faster etc.

We naively believe that we can improve crypto currencies.


Can we?
There is plenty of evidence that we can’t.

Crypto currencies are subject to a Darwinian evolutionary process. Crypto engineers like us sometimes naively hope that “better” currencies will drive “not so good” currencies out of business. In fact the Gresham-Copernicus Law [1517] says exactly otherwise! Bad currencies DO frequently drive better currencies out of business.

The “bad” option is also happening with bitcoin: it has gained excessive popularity NOT because it was technically very good (it never was) or had solid intrinsic value, or it was fast and convenient (it never was). It has thrived because it has created huge expectations which temporarily bitcoin competitors could not meet. Bitcoin remained the obvious choice, a sort of natural monopoly [see Section 12 here]. However bad and ugly it has been.


The “Yahoo of cryptocoins” is now waiting for the  “Google of cryptocoins” to steal their business
purely on technical superiority and without a single hostile shot. This however is NOT guaranteed to happen.

For example if one crypto currency fixes some cryptography issues, it will get something else wrong.

Antonopoulos [a former UCL student] has once pointed out that “when you have a technology that is ‘good enough’ that achieves network scale […] good enough suddenly becomes ‘perfect'” and therefore he claimed that bitcoin has made it: “I don’t see any altcoin displacing it”, he says.  If bitcoin crashes, again according to Antonopoulos it will be rather because “we blow it up by accident and that could happen”.

In general a Darwinian evolutionary process does NOT lead to strict technical superiority.
Inferior and imperfect solutions have good chances to thrive, if they are able to adapt to circumstances, or if they just lie and cheat us to believe that they are OK. They can just pretend to do the right thing or imitate what good solutions should be doing. Welcome to the creepy world full of noise, propaganda, self-indulgent promotion, and numerous scams (which are also all about imitation and mimicry).

The good, the bad and the ugly are here to stay.

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