Beware of ‘blockchain-free’ crypto Spectre’s FUD tactics

A new cryptocurrency is coming, and it promises to remain secure even under high throughput and fast confirmation times. Sounds familiar?

Developed by Ghost protocol author Yonatan Sompolinsky with co-authors Yoad Lewenberg and Aviv Zohar, Spectre is a protocol aiming to alleviate the security-scalability trade-off imposed by Satoshi Nakamoto by generalizing the blockchain into a direct acyclic graph—a block DAG.

“At any throughput, Spectre is resilient to attackers with up to 50% of the computational power (reaching the limit defined by network congestion and bandwidth constraints). Spectre can operate at arbitrarily high block creation rates, which implies that its transactions confirm in mere seconds (limited mostly by the round-trip-time in the network,” according to the project’s paper.

The protocol adopts many of Bitcoin’s solution features such as allowing miners to create blocks. However, instead of using a blockchain system, Spectre will operate via DAG, which Sompolinsky described to CoinDesk as “the next step, releasing the blockchain from the naivety of the chain structure.”

“While in miners ‘classic’ Bitcoin create blocks that contain the hash of a single parent block and extend a single chain, Spectre naturally includes blocks that were created in parallel. Under Spectre, each block may reference several predecessors. The resulting structure is a Direct Acyclic Graph (DAG) of blocks,” Zohar wrote in a Medium post.

By using DAG, the group expects to achieve “quite dramatic” results, including confirmation times of several seconds, high throughput with on-chain scalability, and miner rewards with low variance.

Tech for tech’s sake

The Spectre project, according to Sompolinsky, is a “critique on the current state of blockchain development,” which is being “held back by in-fighting.” But is the blockchain-free cryptocurrency the solution everyone is waiting for to end all wars? Or is it the latest in the long line of altcoins that misses the economics of the system?

Dr. Craig Wright, chief scientist of nChain, warned that Spectre is another FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt] targeting Bitcoin (BCH).

“They want to solve economics. The issue is that you cannot, we live in a scarce world and economics always applies, there is no way past that,” Wright said. “What they fail to see is that this [DAG] adds latency and as the system scales, starts to become more complex and computationally expensive. In a DAG, there are always multiple critical paths. This cannot be avoided. They seek to ignore this and believe that they are able to solve it as the system grows to millions of users (forget billions). In this system, as it grows, it runs into a problem, that is conflicting payment channels. It assumes to an extent that all actors are honest. It does not think from the negative.”

The cryptocurrency has yet to launch—the group is eyeing winter 2018 rollout—but Spectre is already shaping up to become another altcoin that will strip away some of the security of Bitcoin to get more speed, all while ignoring that what it seeks to achieve is already happening in the BCH branch, and with all the inherent security of Bitcoin intact.

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