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Hal Finney, PGP and Bitcoin Pioneer, Dies At 58

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the that's-a-legacy dept.

Bitcoin 40

New submitter brokenin2 writes Hal Finney, the number two programmer for PGP and the first person to receive a Bitcoin transaction, has passed away. From the article on Coindesk: "Shortly after collaborating with Nakamoto on early bitcoin code in 2009, Finney announced he was suffering from ALS. Increasing paralysis, which eventually became near-total, forced him to retire from work in early 2011."

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Obligatory (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47789745)

I nominate Hal Finney for the Ice Bucket Challenge!

Re:Obligatory (5, Funny)

ZankerH (1401751) | about 5 months ago | (#47789879)

Considering the fact that he entered cryonic suspension, I'd say he pretty much won that challenge.

Re:Obligatory (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 months ago | (#47791673)

no, jumping into an ice bucket is not the same as having it dumped on you.

Which ASIC for alt-coins ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47789955)

As there are many ASIC-miners in the market for bitcoin and altcoins, is there a site which reviews all those ASICs?

Condolences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47789759)

To his friends and family. In all the possible ways to go ALS seems particularly cruel.

RIP, you cold cypherpunk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47789761)

I'm assuming he still wanted to be cryo'd.

Fran, you have my condolences.

Re:RIP, you cold cypherpunk (3, Insightful)

cbhacking (979169) | about 5 months ago | (#47790071)

Yes, he was cryopreserved.

On the plus side, knowing your own death is coming and being at a hospital already gives the best chances for cryopreserving the brain before it begins to degrade. You can get a "standby" watch as the time approaches.

On the minus side, ALS is a neurological disease. It affects the motor neurons, not the ones responsible for cognition, but that includes the "upper" motor neurons... including the ones in the brain.

Maybe we'll be able to repair ALS-damaged neurons before we figure out how to safely reverse cryopreservation. Maybe we won't, but life support systems will be good enough it'll be worth bringing him out anyhow. Maybe we'll achieve brain uploading and ALS will be irrelevant. Any which way you look at it, though, he's going to need some work.

That's actually one of the (many) problems with cryopreservation research. We can't bring people out of full suspension right now, so cryopreserving a living person is legally considered killing them. Thus, it can only be done to people already legally dead. Legally dead people tend to have died *of* something. There just isn't any point to bringing people out of cryonics until we can repair (or replace) their bodies.

Re:RIP, you cold cypherpunk (0)

iggymanz (596061) | about 5 months ago | (#47790635)

No worries, cryopreserved people are dead forever. They will not and can not be revived and the industry is a scam going on for now 47 years. I'll bet some of those early adopters thought they'd be thawed and "cured" (nevermind they died before freezing) by now. suckers.

Re:RIP, you cold cypherpunk (1)

EvolutionInAction (2623513) | about 5 months ago | (#47790763)

I imagine some of the cryo houses are 'scams' in that they don't believe revival is possible, some are true believers. Regardless, I don't think that 'revival' is going to be possible until somebody figures out a protocol for actually freezing the bodies without damage in the first place. What is quite possible is instead us figuring out how to make exceptionally fine brain scans before some or most of these companies go bust. It's much, much cheaper to maintain a massive redundant storage server farm than a cryonics warehouse.

Then the problem is emulating a human brain, but hell, at least we know where to start with that. Fixing a freezerburnt body seems a hell of a lot harder.

Re:RIP, you cold cypherpunk (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 5 months ago | (#47797665)

There's probably not much point in trying to fix the bodies anyhow; even without the freeze damage, the people are legally dead because their bodies were shutting down. In many cases, the freezing just finished a process of tissue damage that was already near-complete.

With that said, bodies (unlike brains) cannot currently be preserved without any freeze damage. Although some places will cycle cryopreservative though the bloodstream to mitigate the damage, others don't bother keeping the parts that can't be protected against freeze damage and only preserve the contents of the skull. Those people signed up for cryopreservation *knowing* their only hopes of revival were brain uploading or brand new bodies... and to them it was worth it. Why not? They were going to be dead anyhow.

Re:RIP, you cold cypherpunk (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 5 months ago | (#47797647)

Some of those early adopters... you mean, like the ones who put their own money into launching the industry, and are themselves cryogenically preserved? I doubt any of them thought they would be restored by now - they knew, as well as we know today, that technology would need to advance to the point of either completely rebuilding their bodies or making bodies themselves redundant - though I suspect some of them thought (and I'm sure they all hoped) there would be more research in the field. In any case, I'm not sure how something is supposed to be a scam when the people launching it put not only their own money but also their own bodies into it. It's not like these were young people out to make a quick buck...

As for the "died before freezing", that's literally a legal technicality, at least in many cases. They met the legal definition of dead - that is, their heart stopped beating - but even back then we could resuscitate people from that state in most cases. In many cases, not for long; their bodies would need to be kept operational through artificial intervention. So yeah, the bodies are dead. But the brains aren't. Your brain can endure a few minutes without oxygen before damage even begins to occur. That's why cryopreservation focuses on the brain. So yeah, the people "died" - but instead of being "brought back" for a brief time (as now happens routinely in hospitals every day) the brain was filled with a chemical that prevents freezing damage and preserved at the temperature of liquid nitrogen until it can be "brought back" into a new life entirely.

Re:RIP, you cold cypherpunk (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 5 months ago | (#47899587)

No, brain death is the legal criteria. Cessation of heartbeat is NOT a consideration. Research the phrase "beating heart cadaver" which is medical technique sometimes used to preserve organs prior to transplant.

Those people were dead, meaning brain dead. No hope of recovery or ressurection.

Dies... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47789807)

... and was cryogenically frozen. You'd think this would be mentioned in a Slashdot article.

Thank you for everything Hal, you were an inspiration to many. My condolences to your family.

His last words were... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47789825)

His last words were... =BA8S97BFGR23SA9=

But of course, since his actual last words were not his signature, there's no way to verify it was he who said them...

I only he had known (5, Funny)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 5 months ago | (#47789851)

What a shame. if only he had know that you can cure ALS by dumping a bucket of ice water on your head.

Re:I only he had known (1)

Rashdot (845549) | about 5 months ago | (#47789943)

He kicked the bucket, maybe he didn't follow the ice water chain letter instructions.

You know that they say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47789857)

Programmers don't die, they just enter an infinite loop.

... infinite ... (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 5 months ago | (#47789959)

Programmers don't die, they just enter an infinite goto


Re:... infinite ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47790013)

Programmers don't die, they just enter an infinite unconditional jump

Re:... infinite ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47790189)

an infinite unconditional jump

Jump to subroutine?

Re:... infinite ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47791081)

Programmers don't die, they just GOSUB without RETURN.

Re: You know that they say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47790519)

Nah they trapped

Questioning by US agencies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47789905)

One person dies in hotel room, another in bicycle accident and another of incurable disease... Just to name few.
What all had in common is knowledge of encryption, PGP, tor, security etc.

I guess, they will not be available for latest round of questioning by agencies as reported couple days ago by Slashdot.

Re:Questioning by US agencies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47789911)

Clearly, working with encryption permanently affects one's brain, causing incurable neurological diseases which affect one's balance thus causing bicycle accidents.
It's obvious really... Dots are all there. All you have to do is connect them.

What? How do you mean "unrelated"? As in "they were not cousins"?

you are quite the stupid cunt aren't you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47792173)

I'm assuming parent is insinuating that the CIA/NSA military industrial/banking complex silenced this man.

Assisted suicide (2, Insightful)

skovnymfe (1671822) | about 5 months ago | (#47789927)

The guy was paralyzed enough to not be able to do any work on a computer in 2011, and yet he doesn't die until 3 years later. I know that Christianity runs strong in the blood of American politics and that this prevents assisted suicide from ever becoming a thing over there, but God damn it. That has got to fucking suck. Dibs on that not happening to me.

Re:Assisted suicide (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47789949)

I hear suicide by cop is rather popular in the USoA.

Re:Assisted suicide (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47790557)

I watched a guy semi-slowly die from ALS. Those people modding you as troll are severely lacking in a clue as to how this condition kills you.

There are some things that are much, much worse than death. ALS is right near the top of that list.

True Cypherpunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47789969)

Hal Finney Wrote Code

The Day Before Yesterday's News Today! (1)

zephvark (1812804) | about 5 months ago | (#47790007)

Ah, we've found a new slogan for Slashdot.

Security first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47790153)

The ultimate in bitcoin cold storage.

Oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47790415)

Version: BCPG C# v1.6.1.0
hQEMAyn1 q4/ornAo AQf/c6A0 FBCiusDx GXhmU6Zz soErrlBd 90SIE5Yv BceRgcV+
x73SHR4K i/cxWWxW m8pNfLoI fs+IjZUb X9d1iHLX IKNIK4Ys ojQfkHye WkA37zJ5
jEaxjcq+ eSMcqi/a 69ACh/mm 3WFWOP5f MNXJT66Y 1knP2kUM 8pJTKFZ9 eCOEk29N
+Q8xTj9e D7qxjydR XtBLtOU6 jX3ne971 Bg9XU+1T EiwfLc+a tkl9AXif xwogWR+C
jB6+cyjr cTVeaILM 0vHlw8XY zPNFHWUl EkUWfaTz xvuP4mbo SXhAPaB6 cVPu1xQ3
YcVypm34 EPQTxNBo 0t1XRPb+ iVKc0dM7 fiIpERFC xMlCLHH2 /EUUSnPM v0Fwnpgj
kFp/1H3B CuQ2Ll3z IholU68u Yk/PhnBc uY765CMS L03Wia7d QpN4+4Zd R1W7dwJT

Farewell to the future, you brave atheist.

Curse Lou Gehrig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47790543)

Taking away out best, Lou? Why Lou? Why?

Brings Ice Bucket to a new perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47791347)

Its nice that the whole thing has gone viral, lots of people getting cold by having huge amounts of frozen water fall on them. But the truth is that ALS is a rat bastard that could affect your or me (God Forbid, but it could happen). Two former neighbours both were afflicted with ALS, both died within 2 years. When living with it, it usually costs about $50,000 - $90,000 just to retrofit the house, get the wheelchair, and try to live as best you can while slowly shutting down. 58 is a reasonably good life, but 78 is better. ALS stole 20 years. Its reasonable to stand under a bucket of cold ice to claw back some of those years (the life I extend might be my own).

Sad to see the media blame Bitcoins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47792071)

Those Republicans hate technology so they hate Bitcoins. Of course we don't think they caused his death, but many of the sheep in this country that listen to the CONservatie-run media will believe it.

Hal's not so much died, as changed phase... (1)

cryptoengineer2 (3469925) | about 5 months ago | (#47793911)

...from liquid to solid. I met him a number of times, and knew him on the cypherpunks list.
He'll be missed while he's gone.
Au Revoir, old pal

Early contributer to the Everything List (1)

HighPerformanceCoder (931732) | about 5 months ago | (#47794259)

Hal was an early contributer to the Everything list, set up to discuss the ensemble everything theories of Max Tegmark and others like him.

In particuar the notion of the quantum theory of immortality received a lot of discussion. Hal followed the absolute SSA interpretation, which means he didn't believe in the quantum theory immortality. However, if he's wrong, I hope he didn't stay locked in for long!

Secret sharing code (1)

Ted Stoner (648616) | about 5 months ago | (#47795585)

A long tome ago for a project I adapted some open source m-of-n secret sharing code written by Hal. I wasn't aware of his contributions to Bitcoin though. Sorry he had to suffer with ALS. RIP.

What happens to the bitcoins? (1)

Keybounce (226364) | about 4 months ago | (#47800855)

We are now seeing the start of the death of bitcoin.

As people die, their coins -- protected by passwords not available to anyone else -- will be taken out of circulation.

So what happens to the bitcoins of the dead? What is the future of a currency that has to suffer hard decline in total units as generations go by?

What is the future of a currency where only corporations can live long enough to use it -- and they cannot prevent theft (if the corporation has a way to spend it, then at least one person must have the same way to spend it.)

Re:What happens to the bitcoins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47871395)

Bitcoins aren't the only items that are password-protected. What happens to somebody's back e-mail when they die? To their web pages? To their World of Warcraft characters?

We already have a mechanism for dealing with this. The person writes his or her passwords down, or puts them in a data file, and stores them in a safe deposit box. (S)he puts the key under the care of an estate-planning attorney that (s)he trusts. Then when (s)he dies, a stipulation in the will opens the safe deposit box and transfers the password to a new owner.

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