Vitalik Buterin is always a must read. He knocks it out of the park with his latest piece "Control as Liability"
The world's largest exchange was hacked and in response the community rallied around a contentious idea: reorganizing the Bitcoin blockchain
This one is hard to grok. But I'll try to distill what the ideas that I think is important here.
The Bitcoin blockchain has probabilistic finality,
which means for any given block X there is some probability that a longer chain is mined before
block X which will be propagated through out the network. And because the Bitcoin protocol dictates that the longest chain is accepted, the initial chain, and block X, would be discarded. It's important to note that this isn't a hard fork but instead a reorganization
and it organically happens on occasion.
After a hacker managed to steal 7,000 BTC (~$40m) from Binance prominent community members rallied around the idea of performing a chain reorganization to recover those funds. In fact, members went further than that and advocated that Binance should bribe miners to make this happen.
There are multiple ways to achieve this, but one such variant would be for Binance to use the private keys of the wallets which had BTC stolen from them and publish transactions with old UTXOs that pay huge BTC fees to various miners. This would give miners a huge incentive to mine a longer chain including these transactions. Critically the fees paid to miners would have to be larger than the money that miners had been rewarded simply for mining. Thus the more time that has passed from when block X was mined, the larger the fee would have to be to perform a reorg that would remove it.
However, in response to Binance's bribe the hacker could immediately publish a transaction on the current chain with an even higher fee
to incentivize miners to not perform the reorg. Binance could then resubmit their transaction
with an even higher fee and it seems likely that this would escalate until miners walk away with everything. But, this would be a fine outcome for Binance because it would show the lengths they are willing to go to make sure hackers walk away empty handed.
At the end of the day Binance decided against attempting a reorganization, citing the potential harms it could bring to Bitcoin's reputation for immutability. Some expressed skepticism that it was even possible to organize miners to perform a reorg. But some day someone will try it, and as the block reward for Bitcoin reduces over time, scenarios like the above will be increasingly possible. We think that transactions posted to (big public) blockchains are immutable, and in some ways that's the whole point, but it's not clear that that assumption will always be true, even for a monster like the Bitcoin blockchain. I suspect that we still have much to learn about the security models for blockchains.'Looping' Created an Underground Insulin-Pump Market
An overview of the DeFi ecosystem and major protocols
What I'm listening to: Seven Trends in Blockchain Computing
Thanks to Roger Bodoo
for the suggestion!