Blockchain coder Cody Burns wakes up in a coffin-sized hotel room in what he would later call a “questionable” part of Hong Kong. As the hotel cashier doesn’t speak English (and only accepts in-person paper-based check-ins), Burns believes this hotel is “not something a westerner would stay in,” but that’s all part of his plan to keep his tracks covered. You see, Burns is performing the cryptographic ceremony that privacy-oriented cryptocurrency zcash has become known for: a ritual that involves multiple people around the world destroy the so-called “toxic waste” that zcash’s “trusted setup” creates. Burns turns off his phone and cuts off all internet connections to his laptop (so no one can track him), then boards the buzzing Hong Kong metro, where no one will suspect him of performing the sacrament – running a secret program given to him by the zcash development team. He’s brought along two USB sticks, one shaped like SpongeBob and the other like Pikachu – technology now doubling as toys – which he used to install the operating system and a zcash virtual machine. Also with him is a colorful Rubix Cube he picked up at a local market as a key to pull random words from the famous sci-fi novel “Neuromancer.” Fittingly, perhaps, as the scenario he’s created could just as easily be written in the pages of a William Gibson novel. At the time, 20 people, including Burns, are moving through similarly strange (if not dystopian) scenarios, displaying not only just how difficult it is to keep things secure and private online, but also how far crypto enthusiasts are willing to go to make sure their next-generation money is. Read more here…

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