[AUDIENCE] I have two questions that are-
[ANDREAS] Two questions? Okay, fine.
[AUDIENCE] Both of them are about risks
against Bitcoin. The first one is technological.
Recently, the National Institute of
Standards and Technology (NIST)…
said it is time to start promoting migration
to post-quantum cryptography, because…
[quantum computing] will weaken
the asymmetric cryptography of SHA-256.
We are talking about an attack of 51%, but in that case
it will take ten or twenty years [to create] a 99% attack.
One bad actor with a quantum computer will be
spending much less energy than anyone else,
and will acquire 99% of the hashing power.
[ANDREAS] If it is 99%, it is not an attack.
You realize that? [AUDIENCE] Yeah, it is a monopoly.
[ANDREAS] Well, not necessarily.
[AUDIENCE] Very quickly-
[ANDREAS] That is the first question?
[AUDIENCE] Yes. So do we change the algorithm?
Move to proof-of-stake? Things like that.
The second question is about the corporations…
and governments, who will not be happy with Bitcoin.
[ANDREAS] Oh no, [they won’t be happy?] [Laughter]
[AUDIENCE] Bitcoin’s community will need to respond.
Any ideas about this?
[ANDREAS] Okay, great.
First question, quantum cryptography and
more specifically quantum cryptanalysis.
At some point, quantum computing will exceed
the [strength] of current cryptographic algorithms.
Listen, that is part of [developing] cryptography.
You have twenty to thirty years of usable life cycle…
an algorithm before it is [broken] due to new
developments in mathematics and technology, etc.
Bitcoin is such that it can be upgraded; both the signing
algorithm and the hashing algorithm can be switched…
for other algorithms if we think
there is a need to do that.
Quantum [computing] represents a threat only if
it is unevenly distributed in commercial sectors.
But if quantum [computing] and
cryptanalysis is available only to one actor,
mostly likely they are a state actor
and they will not use it on Bitcoin.
[Instead], they will keep it secret and use it
at a time when they are threatened, such as…
by a cryptographically secured nuclear weapon
or whatever, some crazy [situation] like that.
Certainly, what we’ve seen with intelligence
agencies that have computing advantages,
they don’t use it until there is a dire emergency,
and Bitcoin is not a dire emergency.
Once you use it and everybody knows you have it,
then all the algorithms will be changed.
You have one shot, so you better make it good.
If quantum computing is available broadly, then miners
upgrade to quantum computers and use quantum SHA.
Crois-SHA-ntum. [Laughter] Something like that.
I don’t know. We would change the algorithms.
If there is enough availability of quantum computing
that 99% of mining capacity switched over, the chance…
the chance that it will be controlled
by one person is pretty slim.
[An attack would just prompt] everybody to run ‘quantum
SHA,’ and it will be a transition like when we went from…
FPGA to ASIC.
We will see a different order of magnitude
or several orders of magnitude improvement.
Keep in mind that running a quantum
computer is neither free nor easy, right?
It will be expensive in terms of energy and cooling costs.
The electricity that you are not spending [on hashing]…
will be spent on keeping the [machine] at
200 degrees below zero. All of these things add up.
We don’t know what the economics will be.
I try not to solve problems until problems come up.
Bitcoin is very much a system where we solve
problems when it is necessary to solve them.
We will see. As for the second [question about]
corporations and governments not being happy,
I’m sure that they won’t be happy.
I believe this is the [point] where people decided that
the King wouldn’t be too happy with their choices.
Kings were not happy anywhere, and yet the revolution
happened anyway. Bitcoin is a technological revolution.
It is a global system. Corporations and
governments must adapt to new technology.
They have been adapting to new technologies
for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years.
They will adapt to Bitcoin, which is neither the worst
thing nor the most insurmountable thing to happen.
There could be far worse cryptocurrencies than
Bitcoin from the perspective of governments.
But the fact that governments will not
be happy really doesn’t concern me much.
Bitcoin is a system that does not require
their permission, approval, cooperation,
endorsement, or assistance.
It is a system that simply exists now.
[They] can deny that it exists, but it still exists.
[They] can pretend it will go away, but it isn’t.
We can talk all day about whether the government
should or shouldn’t regulate Bitcoin.
The difficult question is whether governments can
regulate Bitcoin. The answer is simple: they can’t.
They can’t regulate Bitcoin itself. They can regulate the
edges, the behaviour of some users within their borders,
under certain circumstances, but the truth is
that they can’t really regulate Bitcoin itself.
Governments and corporations will need to adapt.
I think that is a feature of Bitcoin, not a bug.
I think that is one of the reasons why
Bitcoin is so exciting to a lot of people.
It introduces a new choice. It is not saying you can’t
[do money] the old way, in hierarchical organizations,
restricted within one border and jurisdiction, and banking
with a central bank. You can still do all of those things.
But we will also do this and see which one is better.
That is really the bottom line.