A Road Made From Silk and Onions

SILK ROAD (of history)

The “silk road” of history was a group of trade routes that linked cultures and expanded civilizations by sharing ideas. It got its name from the effort to find good traveling routes for trading silk with China. But once the silk road routes were established, traders carried all manner of goods across them.

The silk road was more of an abstract concept than a group of set routes. The routes changed over time and both the control and use of them shifted as kingdoms and empires changed. The stories told by Marco Polo were based on travels over the silk road terrain and helped to later inspire many European explorers.


Ross Ulbricht graduated from the University of Texas in Dallas in 2006 with a BS degree in Physics. He spent a couple of years at the Penn State University as a graduate research assistant in the school of materials science and engineering. His linkedin profile includes the following:

Ross Ulbricht – Investment Adviser and Entrepreneur – [linkedin.com]

I love learning and using theoretical constructs to better understand the world around me. Naturally therefore, I studied physics in college and worked as a research scientist for five years. I published my findings in peer reviewed journals five times over that period, first on organic solar cells and then on EuO thin-film crystals. My goal during this period of my life was simply to expand the frontier of human knowledge.

Now, my goals have shifted. I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression amongst mankind. Just as slavery has been abolished most everywhere, I believe violence, coercion and all forms of force by one person over another can come to an end. The most widespread and systemic use of force is amongst institutions and governments, so this is my current point of effort. The best way to change a government is to change the minds of the governed, however. To that end, I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force.


TOR is an anonymous routing protocol that uses encryption and random connections between routers to make it difficult for anybody to trace network connections. It evolved from a project started at the Naval Research Laboratory called The Onion Router (TOR).

Anonymity Online – [torproject.org]

What is Tor?
Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.

Bitcoins are virtual money that allow private (if not anonymous) financial transactions. By using different bitcoin “addresses” for each bitcoin transaction and using TOR to protect the internet source address, transactions can become very anonymous.

Bitcoin – [bitcoin.org]

Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin and everyone can take part. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment system.

Understanding Bitcoin traceability

Bitcoin works with an unprecedented level of transparency that most people are not used to deal with. All Bitcoin transactions are public, traceable, and permanently stored in the Bitcoin network. Bitcoin addresses are the only information used to define where bitcoins are allocated and where they are sent. These addresses are created privately by each user’s wallets. However, once addresses are used, they become tainted by the history of all transactions they are involved with. Anyone can see the balance and all transactions of any address. Since users usually have to reveal their identity in order to receive services or goods, Bitcoin addresses cannot remain fully anonymous. For these reasons, Bitcoin addresses should only be used once and users must be careful not to disclose their addresses.

SILK ROAD (black cyber market)

Using TOR and bitcoins to protect transactions from scrutiny, the “Silk Road” black market website launched in February of 2011. Ross Ulbricht used the screename “Dread Pirate Roberts” to manage the enterprise.

Underground Website Lets You Buy Any Drug Imaginable – [wired.com]

Silk Road, a digital black market that sits just below most internet users’ purview, does resemble something from a cyberpunk novel. Through a combination of anonymity technology and a sophisticated user-feedback system, Silk Road makes buying and selling illegal drugs as easy as buying used electronics — and seemingly as safe. It’s Amazon — if Amazon sold mind-altering chemicals.

Feds Bust Billion-Dollar Online Black Market & Its Leader, ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’
– [heavy.com]

Federal authorities have seized an online marketplace for illegal drugs and services called Silk Road and arrested the man behind it, Ross William Ulbricht, who goes by the alias Dread Pirate Roberts. According to an FBI probable cause affidavit (scroll down to read the full doc), from January 2011 to September 2013, “…the Silk road website has served as a sprawling black-market bazaar, where illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services have been regularly bought and sold by the site’s users.” Here’s what you should know about Ulbricht and the apparent end of his enterprise.

How LinkedIn and Google+ gave away the alleged owner of the internet’s largest drug market – [qz.com]

This is how your social media activity gives you away. Ross William Ulbricht was arrested this afternoon in San Francisco for, among other things, conspiracy to “violate the narcotics law of the United States.” Ulbricht is allegedly the Dread Pirate Roberts, the owner and administrator of Silk Road, a hidden website known as a destination to buy drugs. According to the complaint filed by authorities, Ulbricht made a series of rookie mistakes that led to his identification, chief among them using his real email address with his real name.

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