Cryptocurrency people are so funny. Recently someone with deep pockets spent six-figures embedding 9MB of encrypted data into the BTC blockchain.

I read a write-up about it one some website dedicated to cryptocurrency, and the author was especially impressed with the fact that encrypted data cannot be decrypted without a key. He noted that "not even ChatGPT could decrypt it".

Of course Cryptocurrency people don't understand cryptography... That's why they buy pretend internet money.


There is something so incredibly funny to me about watching a journalist that specializes in Cryptocurrency encountering a 9MB blob of encrypted data, and marveling over the fact that a language model couldn't magically break the cypher.

And then to tell the world that this is how he tried to decrypt data, with zero awareness that they're saying something devastatingly stupid to anyone who actually understands the topic.

And cryptography is literally the backbone of the tech he covers...

Found the article. Seems like I was off on the cost ($64k, not six-figures), but here's the whole thing if you want to die inside:

@Alex Sometimes I think a trained monkey could do my job as a cybersecurity professional and then I read stuff like *this.*

@MisuseCase @Alex i'm starting to thgink properly using the model requires almost the same skills are doing the job without it. ;)

@MisuseCase @Alex But the real question is whether or not the trained monkey beats ChatGPT at cracking encryption.

If so, I'm seeking investors for my new simian-tech startup.

I liked it most when they identified random characters in the mojibake as if they were clues. "Hey look there's a greek character! And that's a question mark in a box. Also my terminal is beeping at me".

@negative12dollarbill @Alex TIL “mojibake” (gibberish text due to decoding with the wrong character encoding). Gorgeous word.

@negative12dollarbill Yes! You definitely read the same article as I did, because I remember by eyes glazing over when I read that part.

@negative12dollarbill @Alex
"Interestingly, two of the 332 inscriptions are marked with a digital pepperoni pizza, which explained means it contains sats from the 10,000 BTC used to purchase two Papa John’s pepperoni pizzas from Early Bitcoin contributor Laszlo Hanyecz on May 22, 2010."


@Alex This irritates me so much that I would like to slap that guy in the face.

@Alex surprised that ChatGPT did not just spew out 9MB of text as "decryption".

@canacar @Alex should’ve tried google translate, it’s lots of fun with random bytes

@Alex This is a symptom of being dumb enough to see the garbage GLLMMs spit out and believe they can magically do everything for you.

@earthshine @Alex some on a podcast recently compared ChatGPT & Co to an "enthusiastic intern"

can you imagine anyone in the positions where such high praise is coming from saying:

"Look at this thing that my unpaid overenthusiastic intern produced!!"

can you imagine how embarrassing that would be for these people 99.5% of the time?

@meena @earthshine @Alex This is a comparison I use a lot too.

"Can LLM's replace an experienced [role]? No, not currently. But it can replace interns, and all [role] start as interns."

I've gotten many "Ooooooh I see now" responses from this analogy.

@Wizarth @meena @Alex
A major problem with that analogy is that the main point of having interns is to train future [role]s, but LLMs don't do that

(Also LLMs make completely different mistakes to an intern, which existing intern-oriented checks may or may not catch)

@sabik @meena @Alex Yes, that is actually my exact point. I'm glad you got it.

@Wizarth @meena @Alex
Of course that may not help in the short term if incentives are misaligned, consequences delayed, costs externalised

@Alex and people probably taking investment advice from him...

@Alex maybe someone else already decrypted it and the AI trainers stole it when they stole the rest of the training data.

@Alex Anyone want to tell them how big cryptographic keys really are, in a simple public/private system?

Though I sort of feel like a LLM could come up with 'a solution' for a one time pad (or equivilant) for a 9MB file, and will probably do so if you keep pressuring it. Which could lead to hilarious results, so I recommend they keep trying.

@Alex That's funny, but what truly irks me is that they stole the term "crypto" T_T crypto used to be cool!

(also TIL that cypher is an alternative spelling of cipher! ... or the other way around I guess)

@mort As someone very much into actual cryptography, Cryptocurrencies were of huge interest to me when Bitcoin was a new thing.

The "experts" today that are completely divorced from cryptography and only care about market hype have thoroughly convinced me to never touch a blockchain-related product ever again, because I never see anyone who actually knows what they're talking about endorse this stuff.

@Alex Hey I was the exact same way! Learning about cryptocurrencies in the early days was really interesting, it's a neat concept of a distributed append-only database which anyone can append to according to agreed-upon rules and which requires control over 50+% of the computing power of the network to attack. I implemented a stratum bitcoin miner in JavaScript as a learning exercise!

But in the past few years, the fraudsters and gamblers have so totally taken over and the tech can't keep up :(

Sometimes I would just like to interview these types of people and get to the bottom of what they think ChatGPT is and how they think it works.

Because they sure seem to think it's a hyper-intelligent super computer. And that's just... not what it is.

@artemis @Alex In fairness, it’s probably more intelligent than they are, so, easy mistake, I guess 🤷🏻

@Alex I mean, I’m not a cryptography nerd, a mathematician or a computer scientist, and even to me that sounds stupid 😐.

I'm not even at a "dabbler" level of technical knowledge, and even I lol'd.

@Alex meh, 2/3 of six figures, so we round up. Or a ix figures Australian. Seven figures in Yen. Close enough. 😎

@Alex If I had $64k to spend on storing 9MB of encrypted data in a publicly accessible space, I would put it in an S3-ish bucket and keep the other $63,998 of it.

@Alex also extremely amused by this guy looking at raw binary dumped into a terminal and going „oh there’s greek and math symbols here“

@Alex anyways my best guess is it‘s something illegal (optimistically, a Metallica song, pessimistically, child porn) and the guy is waiting a bit for the data to become near unremovable before dropping the key or download script or whatever, to make some sort of point (unsure what point). That seems like a bitcoiner thing to do.

@halcy @Alex I was thinking about some romantic gesture. Or some wiki leaks kind of data.

@Alex actually nevermind that I forgot what bitcoin is like for a second. surely it's some scam.

@Alex 5-figures is still a lot!

... and it's also hilarious that shared a *screenshot* of the data rendered as *text* while asking if anyone could decode it.

Their link doesn't seem to make the data readily available either - it declares "application/octet-stream", but doesn't seem to actually show the raw content.


@Alex i knew some people working on blockchain tech that understood cryptography very well.

But they're not journalists.

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