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Robert Linus, ZeroSync developer and creator of the BitVM protocol, created a new protocol for joining data sales and downloads to the trustless security of the Bitcoin blockchain, and it may open a new field of use for Bitcoin.
Linus has had a busy career of late changing the potential of Bitcoin. Although most of the buzz about Bitcoin in the mainstream is related to its monetization and use as a financial instrument because it is so intertwined with the existing world of finance, Linus has created several important projects to blockchain can be used in surprising new areas. In addition to his work at ZeroSync to create zero-knowledge proofs, last October, Linus made headlines with his new BitVM protocol: A method for building logic gates and complex computations entirely within the Bitcoin blockchain. . Such functionality, at scale, enables Bitcoin to create smart contracts at the same level as other tokens such as Ethereum, without sacrificing any of Bitcoin’s decentralized characteristics.
On November 11, Linus announced the proof-of-concept for a new protocol: BitStream. In fact, the plan is to use the Bitcoin blockchain to make atomic purchases of different data packets; in other words, purchases that do not require an intermediary and can be accepted or disputed by the buyer and seller purely using the functions of their contract. Linus’ whitepaper is more detailed: He specifically focuses on Nostr, a decentralized protocol designed to make communications uncensorable.
Although its trustless nature and general purpose is very close to Bitcoin’s behavior, Nostr does not use Bitcoin directly, and Linus admits that “paid servers for platforms like Nostr are often underestimated their operating costs when charging a monthly fee for storing a user’s data. Users can split their fee into daily or weekly increments if they don’t rely on those server, but this strategy doesn’t solve the economic challenges that servers face. Users pay to upload their data, so servers don’t pay per download.” He continued to say one of the main focuses behind BitStream is the requirement that servers be incentivized and compensated, using a pay-for-download basis.
Although Linus was quick to point out some very easy ways that BitStream’s encryption protocol could be more complex, to make the service more secure as a whole, he made an explanation of fundamentals using a highly simplified model. In fact, as is more common in file encryption, the file is first broken into chunks to form a Merkle tree, and it then hashes each piece of data. The new File ID is the root of this tree, the piece of information that contains all the hashes and none of the original data. A one-time pad is used to encrypt each of the original chunks, using a different formula than the hashes of the unencrypted tree. The hashed chunks and the new encryptions of the same chunks are matched, into a new tree with a new root shared by the server.
With the Encrypted ID available, an automated process can exist where the seller’s payment is automatically combined with the other pieces of data needed to decrypt the actual file: All encrypted bits, the hashes of all unencrypted fragments and the original file ID. If there is any difference between the encrypted chunks and the unencrypted chunks, it is immediately visible, and the buyer can use it as a proof on the blockchain that the transaction is somehow fake and must be returned. In this way, a secure method of transferring files is transformed into a trustless financial contract that encourages the data server, all using the power of the Bitcoin blockchain.
This protocol is enabled by a wide variety of Bitcoin payment channels, obviously including the Lightning Network but also sidechains like Liquid and many more obscure solutions. It’s also built in a similar way to BitVM, it doesn’t need to clog up the Bitcoin blockchain by doing every step that requires on-chain transactions, but verification and disputes make it easy to do those dispute. When Linus was told that BitStream does for storage space what BitVM does for execution time, and asked if they could be combined, he ANSWERED in the affirmative and claims that he came with BitStream first, and needs to think how to generalize it to BitVM.
Although this protocol has both of these supporters and detractors, Linus was brief when he was asked on Twitter what makes this protocol better than other storage solutions? his ANSWERS: “This is bitcoin.” Again, Linus has come up with a way to do some functions that some altcoins have centered their business model around, all using the number one decentralized currency, and not even having a negative effects. It is in this spirit, then, that we must consider Durabit: a protocol similar to the use of Bitcoin to encourage and guarantee the security of data transfers, even if there is an anonymous creator.
Durabit is a protocol built on top of one of the most popular Internet protocols, BitTorrent, the file hosting service. Although it has gained a great reputation in its 22 years of operation, it requires users to actively share data for additional downloads. If a file is downloaded by users more often than it is seeded, it will be lost. Durabit does not propose a completely trustless method to solve this, although it is reasonably low-trust: A mint runs the protocol, and accepts funds from users who want to see a file. seed. The mint then makes micro-payouts to the seeders at set intervals, so the mint doesn’t directly run away with the funds and the initial investor can recover the remaining funds if they feel the mint is acting inappropriately. honest way.
This protocol is more niche, and for that matter less reliable than BitStream, but it opens a truly new use case in the history of Bitcoin. Although the cry of “seed your streams!” This has been an important constraint for good behavior on the Internet for decades now, the loss of files from the platform and the difficulties of running a program like Nostr show that good will is not always enough. With Bitcoin, there can be an actual incentive to maintain best practices and encourage the free flow of information, all without tying these incentives to an outside authority.
Even the best-intentioned overseer can still be forced by outside forces to stop the flow of data, but protocols like this show how information can flow even at a small scale. arbitrator or not. Bitcoin has the powerful ability to transform the world of data markets, and this is all within Bitcoin’s most basic ethical laws. If BitStream sees widespread use, if more anonymous Bitcoiners create protocols like Durabit, who knows what the possibilities are? After the community started to evolve a new concept for Bitcoin, the sky is the limit.