Author's note: This is an updated re-release from an article I've written for dashnation.com under my pen name "Rico Champ" (anagram). Original article begins after this.
This article requires you to have listened to the following Bitcoin Uncensored interview by Chris de Rose and Joshua Unseth with their guest Amanda B. Johnson, host of Dash: Detailed
The fast pace we witness in this interview is a modus operandi that incorporates elements of „ambush journalism“ which by definition puts „questions to an individual in order to elicit spur-of-the-moment responses“.
Now Chris de Rose and Joshua Unseth ardently claim not to be journalists but clearly they engage in journalistic activities making them de-facto journalists, so the classification of ambush journalism certainly applies here. The reason we mention this is to offer an explanation as to why the interviewee, Amanda B. Johnson, while unquestionably maintaining calmness and a cool head, may not have answered major questions in a satisfactory manner to a general audience. Rapid fire questions and many interruptions to derail the interviewed person’s train of thought are a way to achieve that result and we are highly critical of that approach.
The interview was a highly antagonistic setup with very few topics kept in a repetition loop with the main goal to drive a negative bias against Dash and the guest Amanda B. Johnson.
In this article we will investigate the claims and accusations made towards the cryptocurrency Dash by the two hosts of the herein linked "Bitcoin Uncensored" episode with Amanda B. Johnson. We will focus very little on the general criticisms towards cryptographic currencies as a whole, as Chris de Rose is known for asking the same or very similar questions to almost every guest on his show. It would go beyond the scope of this already quite lengthy article, as well. Further, we will not evaluate Johnson’s responses except when they really stood out, but other than that we found her performance, considering the unfair circumstances she was subjected to (two highly opinionated, rapid-fire attack dogs vs. 1 person), very remarkable and applaud her dedication.
Let us dive into the interview. The first few minutes are a quite long introduction, which is not the focus of this investigation. Almost 15 minutes in we find our first noteworthy quotes:
14:45- "Who runs those Masternodes? How many Masternodes are there? How do you know it's not only 1 person?"
We don't know who runs them (which is fine), but we certainly know all 3,900 Masternodes are not ran by one person, because that would mean that one individual owned almost 4 million Dash owed to the fact that a 1,000 Dash collateral is required to run a Masternode. You'd have a hard time convincing even the biggest non-dishonest Dash critic of that.
At 18:27 Chris de Rose says he held large amounts of Darkcoin and that he would've been able to run a "very good number" of Masternodes himself. This exemplifies that, obviously the developer or any single person doesn’t own all of the Masternodes. We, the authors of this article, can also testify to be holding a reasonably low amount of Masternodes ourselves, further refuting the claim of central ownership. The largest known holder of Masternodes is a person that reportedly never mined and bought all Dash on the free market. He holds around 400 Masternodes which translates to little over 10% of all nodes. As previously stated: The required tokens have all been bought on the free market and were accessible to everyone else at low prices.
15:40 - "How do they prevent sybil attacks?"
Amanda answered that question very well. The 1,000 Dash collateral per Masternode makes it financially impossible to establish enough nodes to effectively sybil attack the network. Since the interview team doesn’t go further into detail (there are several sybil-attack-scenarios with different goals), we are not inclined to guess what they meant exactly. Suffice it to say, any one entity (most likely a government) attempting to acquire enough Dash for such an enterprise will send the price of Dash beyond reasonable levels. Even then all the entity could do, would be destroying its own wealth through malicious behaviour.
25:24 - "How much energy is the Dash network burning currently? And you can tell that by the issuance rate multiplied by the market price, although in this case you have to multiply it by like […] 0.55“
Due to the wrong figures here the ensuing calculation is completely wrong (Garbage in, Garbage out) and ignores dozens of highly important factors describing the economical feasibility of a censorship-attack. The amount that is “burnt” on mining actually goes to multiple costs, not just energy/electricity. And there is nothing special about electricity in relation to the other costs either (other than the fact that it destroys the environment). Other costs include hardware, real estate, employees, and a reasonable return on capital to investors. So not 100% goes toward electricity in the first place.
In conclusion that calculation has no basis in reality and should not be quoted by anyone for any purpose:
27:06 - "So Amanda, to censor the network right now for Dash it costs around 9,200 dollars per day!"
This is completely false as shown above it. Instead we will show the actual, correct calculation and will explicitly state what the value represents and most importantly what it does not represent.
|DASH Block time:||2.5 minutes|
|Blocks per 24 hours:||576 blocks|
|Current block reward:||4.31 DASH|
|Market price of 1 DASH:||7.00 USD|
|Reward split DASH network:||45:45:10|
|Issuance per day:||576 blocks * 4.31 DASH * 7.00 USD = $17.377,92|
|Effective miner reward:||$17.377,92 * 0.45 = $7,802,06|
19:55 – 20:16 - "If you remove the subsidies by half then you are necessarily cutting the energy burnt in half [...] and that makes it 50% less secure!" (correction note at the end)Actually "removing" part of the block reward like that without the price adjusting upwards to keep miners mining profitably will lower the security of the network due to miners unable to cover their cost dropping off, lowering the hashrate and making it thus easier to attack. That much is true. However in the case of Dash that part of the block reward is not "removed" in any way. It is put to use for another direly needed and very important aspect of the network: The infrastructure. The brilliance of subsidizing the creation of an almost 4,000 Masternode strong infrastructure (plus regular full nodes) is what gives additional value to the Dash network, resulting in an even higher per token value and thus higher profitability than you would expect with 100% block reward going to the miners, who tend to sell off their tokens immediately, whereas Masternode operators tend to hold, further consolidating the price. It is important to note that the fiat price of a single token is the deciding factor here, because in the end, miners pay electricity bills in fiat. Since a lot of miners secure the network with a high hashrate, it is desirable to attract as many miners to the network as possible. This can be achieved easily with a high price per token. The fact that the block reward is split in the case of Dash does not lower that attractiveness. As we have shown above it does exactly the opposite: The Masternode network is a major asset driving up the price of Dash, which in turn attracts more miners, which in turn cause a higher hashrate, which in turn make the network more secure.
Conclusion: Splitting the block reward among miners and infrastructure causes more security, not less. And this isn't even accounting for the fact that the development of Dash is also subsidized by the block reward as well, incentivizing developers to fix bugs and create new features, raising the value of Dash even more (actual split isn't 50:50, but 45:45:10).
25:55 - „The hashrate is irrelevant!“
Nothing could be further from the truth: The amount of hashrate one can buy on the open market is obviously limited, which thusly limits the ability of an attacker to own 51% or more of the network. With a current network hashrate of around 400GH/s and 1 Dash having purchasing power for around 1 MH/s (for ASICs) it would cost about 400,000 Dash or $2.8 million just to buy enough mining power in preparation of the attack. Operation costs must be added to that, especially the cost of continuing the attack after price and thus profitability dropped below the cost coverage point. Performing the same attack with CPUs or GPUs is prohibitively expensive, thus access to that amount of ASIC hashing power would be quintessential, but is impossible to achieve in practice.
24:00 "Why do we need Proof-of-Work?“
A typical recycled question which he answers himself at 25:20 "you can only solve censorship issues by burning energy.“
21:33 "You don’t know that Sybil-attack isn‘t the state of Dash right now!"
Sensationalism and provocation. https://www.dashwhale.org/ has 463 members as of now, each of which has an average of 3-4 Masternodes and they all vote differently on different proposals all the time, proving a pluralistic non-centralized network.
Either Amanda gave very good responses or claims we already refuted previously were repeated from here on, that’s why you will notice a big gap in time marks…
41:32 "We can attack that network for less than 10,000 dollars a day!"
has been thoroughly debunked in our previous analysis
42:10 - "I‘m very skeptical that anyone’s making ASICs for Dash, nobody uses it!"
Incorrect. These three manufactures have already shipped ASICs:
43:47 - "I know there's very good claims that the mixing service is very bad!"
The coin mixing has been slow in the past, an issue that has been addressed and fixed by the upcoming Dash v12.1 release. To call it „very bad“ is quite the exaggeration though, since as of now its anonymity remains unbroken.
47:32 - 48:50 A long-winded patronizing speech with many false assumptions not worthy of too much scrutiny. Two noteworthy things though: The network effect’s role is being heavily exaggerated and gold does not have value because „a lot of people use it“ as implied, but because it has monetary properties.
52:25 - "It seems like when looking at the Dash camp, they’ve just snapped their finger and say ‚It’s been done‘, but no one’s peer-reviewed it, no one’s evaluated it…“
Dash has been peer-reviewed by Kristov Atlas in the past and the risks he identified have been addressed.
This is the paper:
This is the reply:
53:00 - "They’ve done it overnight!“
This comment hardly deserves any scrutiny, but it is very easy to verify that a lot of effort has been put into the Dash project in the last 2.5 years. The development updates listed here go on for 5 very long pages and detail the path of Dash up to its current state: https://www.dash.org/news/category/development
53:20 - "How could they have done it? Cause to me that’s extraordinary!“
This is not an argument. Human history has proven time and time again that it takes a single person to change the world: Galileo, Newton, Einstein etc. and Satoshi Nakamoto for a more recent examples (Though it can be argued that Nakamoto might have been a group of people, but that’s beside the point). We are certainly not suggesting Evan Duffield to be a world-changing genius, but it is easy to see he made remarkable contributions to the space of cryptocurrency with anything but little effort.
54:44 - "It seems like Evan grabbed [CoinJoin] that was rejected from Bitcoin […] and said ‚Nope this is perfect and it works and I’ll sell it!‘“
Misrepresentation of historic facts. CoinJoin was far from perfect and Evan Duffield realized that from the get go. However he saw a solution on how to fix its weaknesses and did so by implementing his own CoinJoin version named DarkSend. DarkSend has been peer-reviewed by Kristov Atlas and its anonymity remains unbroken as of this day.
55:32 - "Do you know why Bitcoin has no instant confirmations?“
Yes, we do. It is because Bitcoin has no second network tier of Masternodes enabling the InstantSend technology to begin with. Masternodes are the main innovation that drive almost every other invention Evan Duffield has come up with by building on top of these incentivized full nodes. They are the open secret to the success of Dash.
57:06 - "Collateralization is not useful in this instance either, because it’s not collateralized, it can’t lose that money, they’re not actually putting that up for loss!“
Before we debunk that statement in its entirety we must ask this: If the Masternode operator is supposed to lose the collateral just so we‘re „allowed“ to call it a collateral, who should it go to? Under what conditions? How are these conditions checked? And how would that centralized seizing of assets be enforced in a decentralized network like Dash? The obvious answer is, it can’t be done without compromising the fundamental properties of the system.
Now for the main part: It’s the value of the tokens that is at stake not the 1,000 tokens of Dash themself. This decoupling of conditions is the brilliance of the collateralized Masternode system. When a Masternode operator acts maliciously within the network the value of Dash everyone owns, including him, will drop (the more Masternodes he holds, the more significantly the drop), thus he’d be in effect burning his own money.
The clever use of incentives is the foundation of the success of cryptocurrencies and it will continue to serve the success of Dash just as well.
58:07 - "No energy is expended to make instant confirmations!"
Amanda gives a very succinct refutation against that claim. We urge you to just listen to it.
Future annotations may follow.
July 6th, 2016 Update: An additional insightful refutation by Dash Core Team member UdjinM6
By Rico Champ
(with friendly support of several Dash community members, most notably solarminer & babygiraffe)