One of the most significant side-effects of the rise of crypto is we're *finally* giving everyone a public/private key pair

What cypherpunks had tried unsuccessfully to do for yrs w/ ideology is happening w/ crypto incentives

This has *far* reaching consequences

warning long🧵
First off, public-key cryptography (PKC) is one of the most imp innovations of the 20th c. yet most ppl haven't heard of it.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public-ke…

It's so powerful that when it was created in the 1970s the US govt classified it as a military weapon!

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of…
And they weren't wrong. It's extremely powerful.

For all of history previously, if you wanted encrypted comms, e.g. between a general his troops far away, you first had to share the secret solution to your code

(eg "move every letter in the message up 7 places in the alphabet")
The need to exchange the secret solution btwn the parties, & the difficulty in updating it, was always a weak point.

Maybe your messenger snoops, or 1 of the 1000s of copies of your secret codes dispersed thru-out your military gets stolen. Once compromised, it's hard to replace
PKC eliminates the need for *any private sharing whatsoever*. Ppl can use your public key to encrypt a message that only your private key can decrypt.

You can share the needed info for ppl to send you encrypted data, & the encrypted data itself, *all publicly w/ zero risk*.
This would have seemed like magic to most ppl in history.

"How can you possibly have encrypted communication between two ppl w/o them having to share a private cipher ahead of time?"

Take a moment to respect the breakthrough. We're still working out the full implications.
US restrictions were finally relaxed in the 90s thanks to the heroic efforts of Phil Zimmerman and the rest of the PGP crew

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pretty_Go…

And not a minute too late b/c the modern Internet *could not have been built w/o it*
The Cypherpunks were ppl who realized early on that the rise of the Internet + PKC could have far-reaching social/political effects.

Imagine global pseudonymous digital identities, worldwide private communication out of the reach of tyrants, proof of data provenance, et al.
There was a major effort to get PKC adopted for encrypted email and signing via PGP - but w/ little success.

Promises of better privacy/freedom were simply not motivating to most ppl.

@Snowden changed this somewhat, but it's still far from as widely adopted as it could be
Further, & imp for our purposes, there was little financial benefit to helping others set it up, so no industry grew up around it to improve the UX.

It remained a difficult to use, opaque-to-the-average-person niche for the "paranoid" (again, somewhat altered by Snowden)
Enter Satoshi.

He used public/private key pairs as the basis for "accounts" on Bitcoin. Ppl send BTC to your public key, but only your private key can send it out again.

No username/password, gov't ID, or KYC. Identities based on math.

All blockchains use this same basic sys.
The rise of cryptocurrency/dapps has provided an enormous *financial incentive* for ppl to finally get/manage their *own* private key

It's also spawned for the 1st time a real industry for making it easier for average ppl to securely manage a private key - we call them "wallets"
Yes there's still *tons* of work to be done on private key management, but respect how much easier it is already in just a few short yrs driven by crypto incentives:
- multiple hardware wallet options
- wide use of mnemonic phrases
- social recovery experiments
- multi-sigs
et al
This has already replaced the web2 username/password paradigm for dapps.

When you login to an Ethereum dapp, you login w/ your private key.

(Passwords were always really just super insecure non-random private keys 😬. Imagine letting a user pick their own wallet private key!)
Now throw in decentralized naming w/ ENS (itself a CS break-thru) + reverse resolution to make it human-friendly

The dapp takes your public key (Eth addr is actually hash of your public key), does a reverse lookup to find your ENS name, then displays it

To put this all together, PKC sign-in + ENS = super secure single password & unique non-sandboxed portable username *for the whole Internet*.

We'll look back on the idea of having a separate handle and user-chosen password for each service as highly backward and antiquated.
So many other use cases, incl beyond blockchain. Your Eth private key +
• NFTs = new ownership paradigm
• txn history = reputation
• signing = provenance & data confirmation
• messaging = non-sandboxed private comms

& so on

All b/c ppl finally have a public/private key pair
Also must point out this is happening w/ Ethereum private keys specifically.

Bitcoin was the pioneer (props), but the mainstream use cases driving regular joe private key adoption (NFTs, defi, et al) are all happening on Eth. No one is logging into dapps w/ their Bitcoin wallet.
Will be interesting to see the hitherto-dreamt-about-but-not-yet-practical use cases that finally happen b/c non-cypherpunks now have private keys.

This is definitely "a time to build." Image
Remains to be seen what the social effects will be now that we move fr ideological predictions to real life implementation. There are always unexpected side effects.

If you want to shape this future for good, now is the time to get involved.

We're building our future right now.

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