Don't trust, verify

Part of a collection of essays on TRUST by @futurepaul

“Trustless” alternatives (scare quotes are mine) to existing trusted systems are a common theme for Bitcoiners. “Don’t trust, verify” is our rallying cry, lifted from the cypherpunk ethos. The Bitcoin whitepaper explicitly outlines a plan for replacing trust with cryptography:

What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party.

Of course, as any honest Bitcoiner will tell you, there’s no such thing as fully “trustless.” A better term would be “trust-minimized.” Can you audit Bitcoin’s code yourself? The cryptography? The compiler that compiles the compiler that compiles the code? The hardware that runs the code? No? Then you’re trusting someone else to do those things, or trusting that such verification is unnecessary.

Posted Sep 4, 2022