market-ticker.org / by Karl Denninger / 2017-06-17
A quick primer for those who don’t understand how these work.
Digital “currencies” are all basically the same. There is a finite number of a given “coin” type at inception; each has a cryptographic “key” that must be discovered in order to “acquire” it, which the proponents argue is similar to digging it out of the ground, and thus it is called “mining” them.
However, each successive coin in a given currency is harder to “mine” than the previous one; the cryptographic series is designed intentionally this way. The first few coins are easy and they get more difficult as the number of them mined is a greater percentage of the whole. The designer attempts to slightly outpace the growth rate of processor capability to solve said problem so that (1) it’s reasonably practical to “mine” them at the outset but (2) as time goes on it becomes more difficult at a fast enough rate that the stock of said coins is not completely exhausted at any given time, NOR does it become so prohibitively difficult that there is no point in trying.
The “coins” are designed to be “self-proving” through a technology known as “blockchain” in the generic sense. In order to confirm your coin is valid (and owned by you) others must reproduce your published “signing” result on the coin you claim to have mined. In addition to prevent your “coin” (which is just a series of bits — that is, a number) from being duplicated (counterfeited) whenever you exchange it with someone else they have to sign the “coin” and that transaction has to be published and the signature verified by some number of others before the “spend” is considered to be good. Once it is considered good then ownership of said coin has passed to the new person. Though this mechanism the transfer of a given coin from its mining onward can be irrevocably traced and it is thus impossible (in theory anyway) for someone to duplicate (counterfeit) said coin.