Now you can donate to Singularity Institute using Bitcoin.
Currently Bitcoin mining appears to be profitable as only bubble economics can be. Already some Less Wrong users have purchased GPUs and started mining Bitcoin. Please consider sending some Bitcoins to SI at address 1HUrNJfVFwQkbuMXwiPxSQcpyr3ktn1wc92014 Edit: Please donate Bitcoin by using the Bitpay link on MIRI's donate page. Thanks!
If you want to donate to SIAI, I have an offer that will probably allow you to donate more!
My Radeon 5970 should generate close to 125 BTC per core per month at current difficulty levels. For an up-front fee of 70 BTC (about $60) or more, I will direct one core at the server of your choice (I recommend a pooling service like that at mining.bitcoin.cz) for one calendar month. I will gain the certainty of paying my huge electric bill, and you will gain a better-than-80% expected profit in only a month.
If you're interested in this offer, message me with a bid... (read more)
What are Bitcoins useful for now? About how much are they worth in dollars (if it's possible to say)? Are they currently good for anything that SingInst needs, and/or are they likely to eventually be valuable enough that it's worth possibly giving people this new excuse not to donate normal money?
There's another concern here. Given the general US government history of strongly not liking things like Bitcoin, (see for example what happened to e-dollar) I'm not sure being involved with bitcoin is a good idea for the long-term success of the Singularity Institute. This is activity that is possibly illegal and it may seriously damage the SI's status in the general public if it becomes associated with it.
EFF accepts donations in Bitcoin, so their lawyers must have decided that it's not clearly illegal or bad PR. On the other hand it makes sense for EFF to signal support of Bitcoin, even at some legal/PR risk, since that fits into their core mission, whereas it's much less clear what accepting donations in Bitcoin now buys SIAI. It seems unlikely to be a significant source of revenue at least in the short term.
Who is behind Bitcoin and what are their declared goals?
What makes them believe governments will not be able to stop the use of Bitcoins in the developed world if Bitcoins get significant traction? Is the goal to get traction in the developed world in the hopes of converting that temporary traction into a persistent presence (on smartphones since computers are not widely deployed there) in failed states and weak states?
(If it gets significant traction, I consider some first-world government's not wanting to shut Bitcoin down as so unlikely as to be not worth explicitly asking after.)
Simplest attack: just make it illegal
Simplest attack: just make it illegal
Why bother, when they can just use existing laws? Classify bitcoin users as banks, then fine them for violating existing transaction-reporting laws. Tax violations. I'm sure there are dozens if not hundreds of regulations that someone can be charged with.
Not reporting income or profit. Not reporting what you paid to other people that should be counted as their income, and so on. The US seems especially hostile to this sort of thing, what with the number of post-9/11 financial regulations added. I daresay they won't be happy that anyone can just become their own bank and not fill out any paperwork at all... let alone the relative impossibility of remotely freezing someone's account or seizing their assets, without first involving every third party they might trade with.
I expect that some clever lawyering and accountancy will be necessary to protect bitcoin users from legal harassment in the future, and that the only thing protecting them now is the relatively low-key nature of the stuff. But it's only a matter of time until the media begin the blitz to portray Bitcoin as a tool of terrorists, druggies, black-hat hackers, gunrunners, money launderers, and whoever else will scare their viewers via guilt-by-association. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention pornographers, and by extension, human traffickers and child molesters. That'll be enough to get political support for a crackdown, I imagine.
If anyone is in a situation where they have unmetered electricity (college dorm, etc.) and a desktop computer that can fit a high-end graphics card and mine 24/7 and donate to SIAI, I'll probably buy a Radeon HD 5870 to loan to you for six months or so.
Updating on the implied value of this activity to SIAI, I precommit to donate £10 to SIAI if I haven't seriously looked into mining in a weeks time. If I look into it and reject it, I will explain my reason not to.
There's a bitcoin escrow service called ClearCoin that includes the option of sending escrowed funds to one of their listed nonprofits, rather than back to the payer, if the escrow expires. I asked the site owner to include the SI donation address as an option and have been using it since.
Unfortunately for SI, everyone I've dealt with has been honest so far! I'll have to actually donate on purpose instead of incidentally, it seems.
I accept Bitcoin donations too. My address is:
Also, are there any jobs I can perform for Users here in exchange for Bitcoin? (Does that topic deserve its own thread?) Since User:Kevin has promised to accept Bitcoins as payments on our deal, this makes it tremendously easier for me to pay User:Kevin.
I hope SI/MIRI has been holding on to those donated bitcoins!
This makes me happy. Now, here's a question that is probably answered in the technical paper, but I don't have time to read it:
"New coins are generated by a network node each time it finds the solution to a certain calculational problem." What is this calculational problem? Could it easily serve some sinister purpose?
I got 0.05 BTC from the Bitcoin Faucet. It looks like there's nothing meaningful I can do with 0.05 BTC, and I'm not certain I'll ever have more, so I'm donating it to SIAI instead of back to the Faucet.
I'm really just posting this so that the 0.05 BTC donation doesn't come off as the signalling equivalent of a 10-cent tip. If I do make more BTC, I'll donate at least some of that as well. (Actually, donating all of it sounds like a good way to avoid annoying tax questions, so I'm considering that.)
Marc Bevand has written an interesting article which describes how bitcoin works, and how the computing power applied to it has been doubling every 27 days. It is also apparently being used for illegal trading already.