IOTA’s main feature that makes it suitable for the internet of things is its lack of payment fees. While there are many theoretical use cases for such a system,
IOTA has not yet found a real product-market fit
. The “use cases” section of the IOTA documentation is sparse and unspecific,
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“The primary focus area is obviously the Internet of Things, especially in areas such as Smart Cities, Infrastructure and Smart Grid, Supply Chain, Transportation and Mobility.” It is not clear whether any of these examples require a steady stream of payments instead of a single upfront payment or a “tab” that can be settled periodically.
In some cases, two parties that do not trust one another will not want to exchange payment upfront or at the end; sending a stream of payments could allow either party to back out of the transaction at any time without losing a significant amount of money. The total addressable market for low-value transactions that require a stream of payments rather than discrete payments is currently quite small and likely does not present enough of a hurdle to justify users’ switching costs.
It is possible that this market expands in the future as internet-connected sensors begin to sell data or as new business models like micropayment-enabled mesh networking gain traction. Even in those cases, IOTA will have to compete with layer-two blockchain solutions like
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, Raiden , and probabilistic micropayments , as well as other fee-less blockchains like .
We have several major concerns with the implementation of IOTA that make us highly skeptical of its lofty claims.The IOTA Coordinator is Centralized IOTA Requires Hardware Changes to IoT Devices The Network Has Experienced Downtime Cryptography and Software Vulnerabilities
The Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) architecture presents an interesting, novel mechanism to organize a distributed ledger. While we don’t believe that DAGs make blockchains obsolete, they offer certain features and tradeoffs that may make them a better fit for certain kinds of decentralized applications. Like many technologies in the distributed ledger space, DAGs are in their infancy and remain largely untested. We look forward to seeing continued research into this sector in the future.
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Image:Wikimedia Commons, IOTA. Composition by Author
Nerd fights are the the background radiation of the cryptocurrency universe, but occasionally a beef becomes so acrimonious that it bubbles over in public. A recent spat between famous cryptographers and a digital currency called IOTA was one such beef.
For example, security researcher Nicholas Weaver from UC Berkeley
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were “drooling idiots” in a tweet on Sunday, and Johns Hopkins cryptography professor Matthew Green nike womens air force 1 hiset test
that people should “avoid the IOTA project—with your brains and your money.”
But wait, you may be asking, what is IOTA and why are a bunch of really smart people very mad about it?
IOTA is a cryptocurrency that’s been around since 2014 and is designed for micro-transactions between machines in the Internet of Things. IOTA is the tenth-largest cryptocurrency with a roughly $5 billion market cap . It doesn’t use a standard blockchain like most cryptocurrencies, but instead uses a Directed Acylic Graph (DAG) it calls “the Tangle” among other attempts at innovation. For example, IOTA infamously used an in-house algorithm called Curl instead of the well-studied algorithms that underprin other digital coins.
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Last July, Ethan Heilman, a Boston University researcher affiliated with MIT’s
Digital Currency Initiative
, informed the IOTA team in an email that he and his colleagues at MIT had discovered “serious cryptographic weaknesses” with the current implementation of Curl in IOTA. (IOTA says it reached out to the DCI team months earlier.) After disclosure, the IOTA team disputed the vulnerabilities’ existence. This is all pretty much in the public domain already; Heilman and his colleagues (including Neha Narula at MIT)
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in September, and ahead of the vulnerability disclosure in August IOTA changed their algorithm from Curl to the well-documented Keccak algorithm.
Emails between the IOTA team and Heilman and Narula were leaked to the IOTA-focused blog The Tangler over the weekend, and reveal that the initial July email from Heilman resulted in a correspondence that stretched into September between DCI researchers and IOTA developers. It got ugly.
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