Why you can’t cash out part 1: Bitcoin’s “price” is ...

The Origins of the Blocksize Debate

On May 4, 2015, Gavin Andresen wrote on his blog:
I was planning to submit a pull request to the 0.11 release of Bitcoin Core that will allow miners to create blocks bigger than one megabyte, starting a little less than a year from now. But this process of peer review turned up a technical issue that needs to get addressed, and I don’t think it can be fixed in time for the first 0.11 release.
I will be writing a series of blog posts, each addressing one argument against raising the maximum block size, or against scheduling a raise right now... please send me an email ([email protected]) if I am missing any arguments
In other words, Gavin proposed a hard fork via a series of blog posts, bypassing all developer communication channels altogether and asking for personal, private emails from anyone interested in discussing the proposal further.
On May 5 (1 day after Gavin submitted his first blog post), Mike Hearn published The capacity cliff on his Medium page. 2 days later, he posted Crash landing. In these posts, he argued:
A common argument for letting Bitcoin blocks fill up is that the outcome won’t be so bad: just a market for fees... this is wrong. I don’t believe fees will become high and stable if Bitcoin runs out of capacity. Instead, I believe Bitcoin will crash.
...a permanent backlog would start to build up... as the backlog grows, nodes will start running out of memory and dying... as Core will accept any transaction that’s valid without any limit a node crash is eventually inevitable.
He also, in the latter article, explained that he disagreed with Satoshi's vision for how Bitcoin would mature[1][2]:
Neither me nor Gavin believe a fee market will work as a substitute for the inflation subsidy.
Gavin continued to publish the series of blog posts he had announced while Hearn made these predictions. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7]
Matt Corallo brought Gavin's proposal up on the bitcoin-dev mailing list after a few days. He wrote:
Recently there has been a flurry of posts by Gavin at http://gavinandresen.svbtle.com/ which advocate strongly for increasing the maximum block size. However, there hasnt been any discussion on this mailing list in several years as far as I can tell...
So, at the risk of starting a flamewar, I'll provide a little bait to get some responses and hope the discussion opens up into an honest comparison of the tradeoffs here. Certainly a consensus in this kind of technical community should be a basic requirement for any serious commitment to blocksize increase.
Personally, I'm rather strongly against any commitment to a block size increase in the near future. Long-term incentive compatibility requires that there be some fee pressure, and that blocks be relatively consistently full or very nearly full. What we see today are transactions enjoying next-block confirmations with nearly zero pressure to include any fee at all (though many do because it makes wallet code simpler).
This allows the well-funded Bitcoin ecosystem to continue building systems which rely on transactions moving quickly into blocks while pretending these systems scale. Thus, instead of working on technologies which bring Bitcoin's trustlessness to systems which scale beyond a blockchain's necessarily slow and (compared to updating numbers in a database) expensive settlement, the ecosystem as a whole continues to focus on building centralized platforms and advocate for changes to Bitcoin which allow them to maintain the status quo
Shortly thereafter, Corallo explained further:
The point of the hard block size limit is exactly because giving miners free rule to do anything they like with their blocks would allow them to do any number of crazy attacks. The incentives for miners to pick block sizes are no where near compatible with what allows the network to continue to run in a decentralized manner.
Tier Nolan considered possible extensions and modifications that might improve Gavin's proposal and argued that soft caps could be used to mitigate against the dangers of a blocksize increase. Tom Harding voiced support for Gavin's proposal
Peter Todd mentioned that a limited blocksize provides the benefit of protecting against the "perverse incentives" behind potential block withholding attacks.
Slush didn't have a strong opinion one way or the other, and neither did Eric Lombrozo, though Eric was interested in developing hard-fork best practices and wanted to:
explore all the complexities involved with deployment of hard forks. Let’s not just do a one-off ad-hoc thing.
Matt Whitlock voiced his opinion:
I'm not so much opposed to a block size increase as I am opposed to a hard fork... I strongly fear that the hard fork itself will become an excuse to change other aspects of the system in ways that will have unintended and possibly disastrous consequences.
Bryan Bishop strongly opposed Gavin's proposal, and offered a philosophical perspective on the matter:
there has been significant public discussion... about why increasing the max block size is kicking the can down the road while possibly compromising blockchain security. There were many excellent objections that were raised that, sadly, I see are not referenced at all in the recent media blitz. Frankly I can't help but feel that if contributions, like those from #bitcoin-wizards, have been ignored in lieu of technical analysis, and the absence of discussion on this mailing list, that I feel perhaps there are other subtle and extremely important technical details that are completely absent from this--and other-- proposals.
Secured decentralization is the most important and most interesting property of bitcoin. Everything else is rather trivial and could be achieved millions of times more efficiently with conventional technology. Our technical work should be informed by the technical nature of the system we have constructed.
There's no doubt in my mind that bitcoin will always see the most extreme campaigns and the most extreme misunderstandings... for development purposes we must hold ourselves to extremely high standards before proposing changes, especially to the public, that have the potential to be unsafe and economically unsafe.
There are many potential technical solutions for aggregating millions (trillions?) of transactions into tiny bundles. As a small proof-of-concept, imagine two parties sending transactions back and forth 100 million times. Instead of recording every transaction, you could record the start state and the end state, and end up with two transactions or less. That's a 100 million fold, without modifying max block size and without potentially compromising secured decentralization.
The MIT group should listen up and get to work figuring out how to measure decentralization and its security.. Getting this measurement right would be really beneficial because we would have a more academic and technical understanding to work with.
Gregory Maxwell echoed and extended that perspective:
When Bitcoin is changed fundamentally, via a hard fork, to have different properties, the change can create winners or losers...
There are non-trivial number of people who hold extremes on any of these general belief patterns; Even among the core developers there is not a consensus on Bitcoin's optimal role in society and the commercial marketplace.
there is a at least a two fold concern on this particular ("Long term Mining incentives") front:
One is that the long-held argument is that security of the Bitcoin system in the long term depends on fee income funding autonomous, anonymous, decentralized miners profitably applying enough hash-power to make reorganizations infeasible.
For fees to achieve this purpose, there seemingly must be an effective scarcity of capacity.
The second is that when subsidy has fallen well below fees, the incentive to move the blockchain forward goes away. An optimal rational miner would be best off forking off the current best block in order to capture its fees, rather than moving the blockchain forward...
tools like the Lightning network proposal could well allow us to hit a greater spectrum of demands at once--including secure zero-confirmation (something that larger blocksizes reduce if anything), which is important for many applications. With the right technology I believe we can have our cake and eat it too, but there needs to be a reason to build it; the security and decentralization level of Bitcoin imposes a hard upper limit on anything that can be based on it.
Another key point here is that the small bumps in blocksize which wouldn't clearly knock the system into a largely centralized mode--small constants--are small enough that they don't quantitatively change the operation of the system; they don't open up new applications that aren't possible today
the procedure I'd prefer would be something like this: if there is a standing backlog, we-the-community of users look to indicators to gauge if the network is losing decentralization and then double the hard limit with proper controls to allow smooth adjustment without fees going to zero (see the past proposals for automatic block size controls that let miners increase up to a hard maximum over the median if they mine at quadratically harder difficulty), and we don't increase if it appears it would be at a substantial increase in centralization risk. Hardfork changes should only be made if they're almost completely uncontroversial--where virtually everyone can look at the available data and say "yea, that isn't undermining my property rights or future use of Bitcoin; it's no big deal". Unfortunately, every indicator I can think of except fee totals has been going in the wrong direction almost monotonically along with the blockchain size increase since 2012 when we started hitting full blocks and responded by increasing the default soft target. This is frustrating
many people--myself included--have been working feverishly hard behind the scenes on Bitcoin Core to increase the scalability. This work isn't small-potatoes boring software engineering stuff; I mean even my personal contributions include things like inventing a wholly new generic algebraic optimization applicable to all EC signature schemes that increases performance by 4%, and that is before getting into the R&D stuff that hasn't really borne fruit yet, like fraud proofs. Today Bitcoin Core is easily >100 times faster to synchronize and relay than when I first got involved on the same hardware, but these improvements have been swallowed by the growth. The ironic thing is that our frantic efforts to keep ahead and not lose decentralization have both not been enough (by the best measures, full node usage is the lowest its been since 2011 even though the user base is huge now) and yet also so much that people could seriously talk about increasing the block size to something gigantic like 20MB. This sounds less reasonable when you realize that even at 1MB we'd likely have a smoking hole in the ground if not for existing enormous efforts to make scaling not come at a loss of decentralization.
Peter Todd also summarized some academic findings on the subject:
In short, without either a fixed blocksize or fixed fee per transaction Bitcoin will will not survive as there is no viable way to pay for PoW security. The latter option - fixed fee per transaction - is non-trivial to implement in a way that's actually meaningful - it's easy to give miners "kickbacks" - leaving us with a fixed blocksize.
Even a relatively small increase to 20MB will greatly reduce the number of people who can participate fully in Bitcoin, creating an environment where the next increase requires the consent of an even smaller portion of the Bitcoin ecosystem. Where does that stop? What's the proposed mechanism that'll create an incentive and social consensus to not just 'kick the can down the road'(3) and further centralize but actually scale up Bitcoin the hard way?
Some developers (e.g. Aaron Voisine) voiced support for Gavin's proposal which repeated Mike Hearn's "crash landing" arguments.
Pieter Wuille said:
I am - in general - in favor of increasing the size blocks...
Controversial hard forks. I hope the mailing list here today already proves it is a controversial issue. Independent of personal opinions pro or against, I don't think we can do a hard fork that is controversial in nature. Either the result is effectively a fork, and pre-existing coins can be spent once on both sides (effectively failing Bitcoin's primary purpose), or the result is one side forced to upgrade to something they dislike - effectively giving a power to developers they should never have. Quoting someone: "I did not sign up to be part of a central banker's committee".
The reason for increasing is "need". If "we need more space in blocks" is the reason to do an upgrade, it won't stop after 20 MB. There is nothing fundamental possible with 20 MB blocks that isn't with 1 MB blocks.
Misrepresentation of the trade-offs. You can argue all you want that none of the effects of larger blocks are particularly damaging, so everything is fine. They will damage something (see below for details), and we should analyze these effects, and be honest about them, and present them as a trade-off made we choose to make to scale the system better. If you just ask people if they want more transactions, of course you'll hear yes. If you ask people if they want to pay less taxes, I'm sure the vast majority will agree as well.
Miner centralization. There is currently, as far as I know, no technology that can relay and validate 20 MB blocks across the planet, in a manner fast enough to avoid very significant costs to mining. There is work in progress on this (including Gavin's IBLT-based relay, or Greg's block network coding), but I don't think we should be basing the future of the economics of the system on undemonstrated ideas. Without those (or even with), the result may be that miners self-limit the size of their blocks to propagate faster, but if this happens, larger, better-connected, and more centrally-located groups of miners gain a competitive advantage by being able to produce larger blocks. I would like to point out that there is nothing evil about this - a simple feedback to determine an optimal block size for an individual miner will result in larger blocks for better connected hash power. If we do not want miners to have this ability, "we" (as in: those using full nodes) should demand limitations that prevent it. One such limitation is a block size limit (whatever it is).
Ability to use a full node.
Skewed incentives for improvements... without actual pressure to work on these, I doubt much will change. Increasing the size of blocks now will simply make it cheap enough to continue business as usual for a while - while forcing a massive cost increase (and not just a monetary one) on the entire ecosystem.
Fees and long-term incentives.
I don't think 1 MB is optimal. Block size is a compromise between scalability of transactions and verifiability of the system. A system with 10 transactions per day that is verifiable by a pocket calculator is not useful, as it would only serve a few large bank's settlements. A system which can deal with every coffee bought on the planet, but requires a Google-scale data center to verify is also not useful, as it would be trivially out-competed by a VISA-like design. The usefulness needs in a balance, and there is no optimal choice for everyone. We can choose where that balance lies, but we must accept that this is done as a trade-off, and that that trade-off will have costs such as hardware costs, decreasing anonymity, less independence, smaller target audience for people able to fully validate, ...
Choose wisely.
Mike Hearn responded:
this list is not a good place for making progress or reaching decisions.
if Bitcoin continues on its current growth trends it will run out of capacity, almost certainly by some time next year. What we need to see right now is leadership and a plan, that fits in the available time window.
I no longer believe this community can reach consensus on anything protocol related.
When the money supply eventually dwindles I doubt it will be fee pressure that funds mining
What I don't see from you yet is a specific and credible plan that fits within the next 12 months and which allows Bitcoin to keep growing.
Peter Todd then pointed out that, contrary to Mike's claims, developer consensus had been achieved within Core plenty of times recently. Btc-drak asked Mike to "explain where the 12 months timeframe comes from?"
Jorge Timón wrote an incredibly prescient reply to Mike:
We've successfully reached consensus for several softfork proposals already. I agree with others that hardfork need to be uncontroversial and there should be consensus about them. If you have other ideas for the criteria for hardfork deployment all I'm ears. I just hope that by "What we need to see right now is leadership" you don't mean something like "when Gaving and Mike agree it's enough to deploy a hardfork" when you go from vague to concrete.
Oh, so your answer to "bitcoin will eventually need to live on fees and we would like to know more about how it will look like then" it's "no bitcoin long term it's broken long term but that's far away in the future so let's just worry about the present". I agree that it's hard to predict that future, but having some competition for block space would actually help us get more data on a similar situation to be able to predict that future better. What you want to avoid at all cost (the block size actually being used), I see as the best opportunity we have to look into the future.
this is my plan: we wait 12 months... and start having full blocks and people having to wait 2 blocks for their transactions to be confirmed some times. That would be the beginning of a true "fee market", something that Gavin used to say was his #1 priority not so long ago (which seems contradictory with his current efforts to avoid that from happening). Having a true fee market seems clearly an advantage. What are supposedly disastrous negative parts of this plan that make an alternative plan (ie: increasing the block size) so necessary and obvious. I think the advocates of the size increase are failing to explain the disadvantages of maintaining the current size. It feels like the explanation are missing because it should be somehow obvious how the sky will burn if we don't increase the block size soon. But, well, it is not obvious to me, so please elaborate on why having a fee market (instead of just an price estimator for a market that doesn't even really exist) would be a disaster.
Some suspected Gavin/Mike were trying to rush the hard fork for personal reasons.
Mike Hearn's response was to demand a "leader" who could unilaterally steer the Bitcoin project and make decisions unchecked:
No. What I meant is that someone (theoretically Wladimir) needs to make a clear decision. If that decision is "Bitcoin Core will wait and watch the fireworks when blocks get full", that would be showing leadership
I will write more on the topic of what will happen if we hit the block size limit... I don't believe we will get any useful data out of such an event. I've seen distributed systems run out of capacity before. What will happen instead is technological failure followed by rapid user abandonment...
we need to hear something like that from Wladimir, or whoever has the final say around here.
Jorge Timón responded:
it is true that "universally uncontroversial" (which is what I think the requirement should be for hard forks) is a vague qualifier that's not formally defined anywhere. I guess we should only consider rational arguments. You cannot just nack something without further explanation. If his explanation was "I will change my mind after we increase block size", I guess the community should say "then we will just ignore your nack because it makes no sense". In the same way, when people use fallacies (purposely or not) we must expose that and say "this fallacy doesn't count as an argument". But yeah, it would probably be good to define better what constitutes a "sensible objection" or something. That doesn't seem simple though.
it seems that some people would like to see that happening before the subsidies are low (not necessarily null), while other people are fine waiting for that but don't want to ever be close to the scale limits anytime soon. I would also like to know for how long we need to prioritize short term adoption in this way. As others have said, if the answer is "forever, adoption is always the most important thing" then we will end up with an improved version of Visa. But yeah, this is progress, I'll wait for your more detailed description of the tragedies that will follow hitting the block limits, assuming for now that it will happen in 12 months. My previous answer to the nervous "we will hit the block limits in 12 months if we don't do anything" was "not sure about 12 months, but whatever, great, I'm waiting for that to observe how fees get affected". But it should have been a question "what's wrong with hitting the block limits in 12 months?"
Mike Hearn again asserted the need for a leader:
There must be a single decision maker for any given codebase.
Bryan Bishop attempted to explain why this did not make sense with git architecture.
Finally, Gavin announced his intent to merge the patch into Bitcoin XT to bypass the peer review he had received on the bitcoin-dev mailing list.
submitted by sound8bits to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

The Origins of the (Modern) Blocksize Debate

On May 4, 2015, Gavin Andresen wrote on his blog:
I was planning to submit a pull request to the 0.11 release of Bitcoin Core that will allow miners to create blocks bigger than one megabyte, starting a little less than a year from now. But this process of peer review turned up a technical issue that needs to get addressed, and I don’t think it can be fixed in time for the first 0.11 release.
I will be writing a series of blog posts, each addressing one argument against raising the maximum block size, or against scheduling a raise right now... please send me an email ([email protected]) if I am missing any arguments
In other words, Gavin proposed a hard fork via a series of blog posts, bypassing all developer communication channels altogether and asking for personal, private emails from anyone interested in discussing the proposal further.
On May 5 (1 day after Gavin submitted his first blog post), Mike Hearn published The capacity cliff on his Medium page. 2 days later, he posted Crash landing. In these posts, he argued:
A common argument for letting Bitcoin blocks fill up is that the outcome won’t be so bad: just a market for fees... this is wrong. I don’t believe fees will become high and stable if Bitcoin runs out of capacity. Instead, I believe Bitcoin will crash.
...a permanent backlog would start to build up... as the backlog grows, nodes will start running out of memory and dying... as Core will accept any transaction that’s valid without any limit a node crash is eventually inevitable.
He also, in the latter article, explained that he disagreed with Satoshi's vision for how Bitcoin would mature[1][2]:
Neither me nor Gavin believe a fee market will work as a substitute for the inflation subsidy.
Gavin continued to publish the series of blog posts he had announced while Hearn made these predictions. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7]
Matt Corallo brought Gavin's proposal up on the bitcoin-dev mailing list after a few days. He wrote:
Recently there has been a flurry of posts by Gavin at http://gavinandresen.svbtle.com/ which advocate strongly for increasing the maximum block size. However, there hasnt been any discussion on this mailing list in several years as far as I can tell...
So, at the risk of starting a flamewar, I'll provide a little bait to get some responses and hope the discussion opens up into an honest comparison of the tradeoffs here. Certainly a consensus in this kind of technical community should be a basic requirement for any serious commitment to blocksize increase.
Personally, I'm rather strongly against any commitment to a block size increase in the near future. Long-term incentive compatibility requires that there be some fee pressure, and that blocks be relatively consistently full or very nearly full. What we see today are transactions enjoying next-block confirmations with nearly zero pressure to include any fee at all (though many do because it makes wallet code simpler).
This allows the well-funded Bitcoin ecosystem to continue building systems which rely on transactions moving quickly into blocks while pretending these systems scale. Thus, instead of working on technologies which bring Bitcoin's trustlessness to systems which scale beyond a blockchain's necessarily slow and (compared to updating numbers in a database) expensive settlement, the ecosystem as a whole continues to focus on building centralized platforms and advocate for changes to Bitcoin which allow them to maintain the status quo
Shortly thereafter, Corallo explained further:
The point of the hard block size limit is exactly because giving miners free rule to do anything they like with their blocks would allow them to do any number of crazy attacks. The incentives for miners to pick block sizes are no where near compatible with what allows the network to continue to run in a decentralized manner.
Tier Nolan considered possible extensions and modifications that might improve Gavin's proposal and argued that soft caps could be used to mitigate against the dangers of a blocksize increase. Tom Harding voiced support for Gavin's proposal
Peter Todd mentioned that a limited blocksize provides the benefit of protecting against the "perverse incentives" behind potential block withholding attacks.
Slush didn't have a strong opinion one way or the other, and neither did Eric Lombrozo, though Eric was interested in developing hard-fork best practices and wanted to:
explore all the complexities involved with deployment of hard forks. Let’s not just do a one-off ad-hoc thing.
Matt Whitlock voiced his opinion:
I'm not so much opposed to a block size increase as I am opposed to a hard fork... I strongly fear that the hard fork itself will become an excuse to change other aspects of the system in ways that will have unintended and possibly disastrous consequences.
Bryan Bishop strongly opposed Gavin's proposal, and offered a philosophical perspective on the matter:
there has been significant public discussion... about why increasing the max block size is kicking the can down the road while possibly compromising blockchain security. There were many excellent objections that were raised that, sadly, I see are not referenced at all in the recent media blitz. Frankly I can't help but feel that if contributions, like those from #bitcoin-wizards, have been ignored in lieu of technical analysis, and the absence of discussion on this mailing list, that I feel perhaps there are other subtle and extremely important technical details that are completely absent from this--and other-- proposals.
Secured decentralization is the most important and most interesting property of bitcoin. Everything else is rather trivial and could be achieved millions of times more efficiently with conventional technology. Our technical work should be informed by the technical nature of the system we have constructed.
There's no doubt in my mind that bitcoin will always see the most extreme campaigns and the most extreme misunderstandings... for development purposes we must hold ourselves to extremely high standards before proposing changes, especially to the public, that have the potential to be unsafe and economically unsafe.
There are many potential technical solutions for aggregating millions (trillions?) of transactions into tiny bundles. As a small proof-of-concept, imagine two parties sending transactions back and forth 100 million times. Instead of recording every transaction, you could record the start state and the end state, and end up with two transactions or less. That's a 100 million fold, without modifying max block size and without potentially compromising secured decentralization.
The MIT group should listen up and get to work figuring out how to measure decentralization and its security.. Getting this measurement right would be really beneficial because we would have a more academic and technical understanding to work with.
Gregory Maxwell echoed and extended that perspective:
When Bitcoin is changed fundamentally, via a hard fork, to have different properties, the change can create winners or losers...
There are non-trivial number of people who hold extremes on any of these general belief patterns; Even among the core developers there is not a consensus on Bitcoin's optimal role in society and the commercial marketplace.
there is a at least a two fold concern on this particular ("Long term Mining incentives") front:
One is that the long-held argument is that security of the Bitcoin system in the long term depends on fee income funding autonomous, anonymous, decentralized miners profitably applying enough hash-power to make reorganizations infeasible.
For fees to achieve this purpose, there seemingly must be an effective scarcity of capacity.
The second is that when subsidy has fallen well below fees, the incentive to move the blockchain forward goes away. An optimal rational miner would be best off forking off the current best block in order to capture its fees, rather than moving the blockchain forward...
tools like the Lightning network proposal could well allow us to hit a greater spectrum of demands at once--including secure zero-confirmation (something that larger blocksizes reduce if anything), which is important for many applications. With the right technology I believe we can have our cake and eat it too, but there needs to be a reason to build it; the security and decentralization level of Bitcoin imposes a hard upper limit on anything that can be based on it.
Another key point here is that the small bumps in blocksize which wouldn't clearly knock the system into a largely centralized mode--small constants--are small enough that they don't quantitatively change the operation of the system; they don't open up new applications that aren't possible today
the procedure I'd prefer would be something like this: if there is a standing backlog, we-the-community of users look to indicators to gauge if the network is losing decentralization and then double the hard limit with proper controls to allow smooth adjustment without fees going to zero (see the past proposals for automatic block size controls that let miners increase up to a hard maximum over the median if they mine at quadratically harder difficulty), and we don't increase if it appears it would be at a substantial increase in centralization risk. Hardfork changes should only be made if they're almost completely uncontroversial--where virtually everyone can look at the available data and say "yea, that isn't undermining my property rights or future use of Bitcoin; it's no big deal". Unfortunately, every indicator I can think of except fee totals has been going in the wrong direction almost monotonically along with the blockchain size increase since 2012 when we started hitting full blocks and responded by increasing the default soft target. This is frustrating
many people--myself included--have been working feverishly hard behind the scenes on Bitcoin Core to increase the scalability. This work isn't small-potatoes boring software engineering stuff; I mean even my personal contributions include things like inventing a wholly new generic algebraic optimization applicable to all EC signature schemes that increases performance by 4%, and that is before getting into the R&D stuff that hasn't really borne fruit yet, like fraud proofs. Today Bitcoin Core is easily >100 times faster to synchronize and relay than when I first got involved on the same hardware, but these improvements have been swallowed by the growth. The ironic thing is that our frantic efforts to keep ahead and not lose decentralization have both not been enough (by the best measures, full node usage is the lowest its been since 2011 even though the user base is huge now) and yet also so much that people could seriously talk about increasing the block size to something gigantic like 20MB. This sounds less reasonable when you realize that even at 1MB we'd likely have a smoking hole in the ground if not for existing enormous efforts to make scaling not come at a loss of decentralization.
Peter Todd also summarized some academic findings on the subject:
In short, without either a fixed blocksize or fixed fee per transaction Bitcoin will will not survive as there is no viable way to pay for PoW security. The latter option - fixed fee per transaction - is non-trivial to implement in a way that's actually meaningful - it's easy to give miners "kickbacks" - leaving us with a fixed blocksize.
Even a relatively small increase to 20MB will greatly reduce the number of people who can participate fully in Bitcoin, creating an environment where the next increase requires the consent of an even smaller portion of the Bitcoin ecosystem. Where does that stop? What's the proposed mechanism that'll create an incentive and social consensus to not just 'kick the can down the road'(3) and further centralize but actually scale up Bitcoin the hard way?
Some developers (e.g. Aaron Voisine) voiced support for Gavin's proposal which repeated Mike Hearn's "crash landing" arguments.
Pieter Wuille said:
I am - in general - in favor of increasing the size blocks...
Controversial hard forks. I hope the mailing list here today already proves it is a controversial issue. Independent of personal opinions pro or against, I don't think we can do a hard fork that is controversial in nature. Either the result is effectively a fork, and pre-existing coins can be spent once on both sides (effectively failing Bitcoin's primary purpose), or the result is one side forced to upgrade to something they dislike - effectively giving a power to developers they should never have. Quoting someone: "I did not sign up to be part of a central banker's committee".
The reason for increasing is "need". If "we need more space in blocks" is the reason to do an upgrade, it won't stop after 20 MB. There is nothing fundamental possible with 20 MB blocks that isn't with 1 MB blocks.
Misrepresentation of the trade-offs. You can argue all you want that none of the effects of larger blocks are particularly damaging, so everything is fine. They will damage something (see below for details), and we should analyze these effects, and be honest about them, and present them as a trade-off made we choose to make to scale the system better. If you just ask people if they want more transactions, of course you'll hear yes. If you ask people if they want to pay less taxes, I'm sure the vast majority will agree as well.
Miner centralization. There is currently, as far as I know, no technology that can relay and validate 20 MB blocks across the planet, in a manner fast enough to avoid very significant costs to mining. There is work in progress on this (including Gavin's IBLT-based relay, or Greg's block network coding), but I don't think we should be basing the future of the economics of the system on undemonstrated ideas. Without those (or even with), the result may be that miners self-limit the size of their blocks to propagate faster, but if this happens, larger, better-connected, and more centrally-located groups of miners gain a competitive advantage by being able to produce larger blocks. I would like to point out that there is nothing evil about this - a simple feedback to determine an optimal block size for an individual miner will result in larger blocks for better connected hash power. If we do not want miners to have this ability, "we" (as in: those using full nodes) should demand limitations that prevent it. One such limitation is a block size limit (whatever it is).
Ability to use a full node.
Skewed incentives for improvements... without actual pressure to work on these, I doubt much will change. Increasing the size of blocks now will simply make it cheap enough to continue business as usual for a while - while forcing a massive cost increase (and not just a monetary one) on the entire ecosystem.
Fees and long-term incentives.
I don't think 1 MB is optimal. Block size is a compromise between scalability of transactions and verifiability of the system. A system with 10 transactions per day that is verifiable by a pocket calculator is not useful, as it would only serve a few large bank's settlements. A system which can deal with every coffee bought on the planet, but requires a Google-scale data center to verify is also not useful, as it would be trivially out-competed by a VISA-like design. The usefulness needs in a balance, and there is no optimal choice for everyone. We can choose where that balance lies, but we must accept that this is done as a trade-off, and that that trade-off will have costs such as hardware costs, decreasing anonymity, less independence, smaller target audience for people able to fully validate, ...
Choose wisely.
Mike Hearn responded:
this list is not a good place for making progress or reaching decisions.
if Bitcoin continues on its current growth trends it will run out of capacity, almost certainly by some time next year. What we need to see right now is leadership and a plan, that fits in the available time window.
I no longer believe this community can reach consensus on anything protocol related.
When the money supply eventually dwindles I doubt it will be fee pressure that funds mining
What I don't see from you yet is a specific and credible plan that fits within the next 12 months and which allows Bitcoin to keep growing.
Peter Todd then pointed out that, contrary to Mike's claims, developer consensus had been achieved within Core plenty of times recently. Btc-drak asked Mike to "explain where the 12 months timeframe comes from?"
Jorge Timón wrote an incredibly prescient reply to Mike:
We've successfully reached consensus for several softfork proposals already. I agree with others that hardfork need to be uncontroversial and there should be consensus about them. If you have other ideas for the criteria for hardfork deployment all I'm ears. I just hope that by "What we need to see right now is leadership" you don't mean something like "when Gaving and Mike agree it's enough to deploy a hardfork" when you go from vague to concrete.
Oh, so your answer to "bitcoin will eventually need to live on fees and we would like to know more about how it will look like then" it's "no bitcoin long term it's broken long term but that's far away in the future so let's just worry about the present". I agree that it's hard to predict that future, but having some competition for block space would actually help us get more data on a similar situation to be able to predict that future better. What you want to avoid at all cost (the block size actually being used), I see as the best opportunity we have to look into the future.
this is my plan: we wait 12 months... and start having full blocks and people having to wait 2 blocks for their transactions to be confirmed some times. That would be the beginning of a true "fee market", something that Gavin used to say was his #1 priority not so long ago (which seems contradictory with his current efforts to avoid that from happening). Having a true fee market seems clearly an advantage. What are supposedly disastrous negative parts of this plan that make an alternative plan (ie: increasing the block size) so necessary and obvious. I think the advocates of the size increase are failing to explain the disadvantages of maintaining the current size. It feels like the explanation are missing because it should be somehow obvious how the sky will burn if we don't increase the block size soon. But, well, it is not obvious to me, so please elaborate on why having a fee market (instead of just an price estimator for a market that doesn't even really exist) would be a disaster.
Some suspected Gavin/Mike were trying to rush the hard fork for personal reasons.
Mike Hearn's response was to demand a "leader" who could unilaterally steer the Bitcoin project and make decisions unchecked:
No. What I meant is that someone (theoretically Wladimir) needs to make a clear decision. If that decision is "Bitcoin Core will wait and watch the fireworks when blocks get full", that would be showing leadership
I will write more on the topic of what will happen if we hit the block size limit... I don't believe we will get any useful data out of such an event. I've seen distributed systems run out of capacity before. What will happen instead is technological failure followed by rapid user abandonment...
we need to hear something like that from Wladimir, or whoever has the final say around here.
Jorge Timón responded:
it is true that "universally uncontroversial" (which is what I think the requirement should be for hard forks) is a vague qualifier that's not formally defined anywhere. I guess we should only consider rational arguments. You cannot just nack something without further explanation. If his explanation was "I will change my mind after we increase block size", I guess the community should say "then we will just ignore your nack because it makes no sense". In the same way, when people use fallacies (purposely or not) we must expose that and say "this fallacy doesn't count as an argument". But yeah, it would probably be good to define better what constitutes a "sensible objection" or something. That doesn't seem simple though.
it seems that some people would like to see that happening before the subsidies are low (not necessarily null), while other people are fine waiting for that but don't want to ever be close to the scale limits anytime soon. I would also like to know for how long we need to prioritize short term adoption in this way. As others have said, if the answer is "forever, adoption is always the most important thing" then we will end up with an improved version of Visa. But yeah, this is progress, I'll wait for your more detailed description of the tragedies that will follow hitting the block limits, assuming for now that it will happen in 12 months. My previous answer to the nervous "we will hit the block limits in 12 months if we don't do anything" was "not sure about 12 months, but whatever, great, I'm waiting for that to observe how fees get affected". But it should have been a question "what's wrong with hitting the block limits in 12 months?"
Mike Hearn again asserted the need for a leader:
There must be a single decision maker for any given codebase.
Bryan Bishop attempted to explain why this did not make sense with git architecture.
Finally, Gavin announced his intent to merge the patch into Bitcoin XT to bypass the peer review he had received on the bitcoin-dev mailing list.
submitted by sound8bits to sound8bits [link] [comments]

Battlecoin [BCX]: a new (and ambitious) game changer in the world of cryptocurrency - Interview with JackofAll

"When it gets too hard for mortals to generate 50BTC, new users could get some coins to play with right away." - Satoshi Nakamoto, 2010
Time goes faster when one talks about IT but, when talking about cryptocurrencies, time goes faster yet.
How long have passed since we’ve heard of mythic characters from the beginning of cypherpunk era – like John Gilmore, Eric Hughes and Tim May – and those from the early days of digital currency of Wei Dai, Satoshi Nakamoto (real or not, it doesn't matter) and others, passing by the current Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies whales – that now are experts or well established entrepreneurs – to us, the Fourth Generation?
Twenty-two years.
However, if we consider that the real deal has only begun on 2009 with Satoshi’s Genesis Block, then the perspective of the quantic leaps we are giving become clearer.
2009 - Satoshi Nakamoto deployed tools and strategy to people regain control
2011 - FPGA Bitcoin Miners appear. Regular GPU miners start to struggle more and more for Bitcoins
2013 - ASIC miners enters the market, and an official Bitcoin mining industry arises, taking small miners – regular people – completely out of the Bitcoin mines, forcing them to mine – and to create – many different altcoins with many different purposes.
2014 - Now, five years after Bitcoin Golden Dawn and almost four years after the white ninja Satoshi’s disappearance, another cryptowarrior arises on battlefield to give (hash) power back to the people.
Was Satoshi foreseeing what was about to come? However, this time, not so philanthropically…
Meet JackofAll, Head Developer of Battlecoin [BCX].
Andre Torres: Jack, are you there?
JackofAll: Yes.
AT: Thanks for talking to Cryptonerd.co and also to Criptonauta.net (in Portuguese and Spanish). Shall we begin?
JoA: Yes.
AT: With the ASIC TH/s mining hardware invading Bitcoin mining pools as FPGA once did - and are about to do again, this time in Litecoin mines - common people are getting more and more trouble to mine big cryptocurrencies and have ROI.
The cryptomines, crowded with dead and injured miners, have become - literally - a battlefield.
Now is my question, why the name Battlecoin?
JoA: Battle coin is by design of course. Just like everything that we do. And yes, it is for the reasons that you might think. It has become a "Battle” out there to get coins made, to get coins listed and just to be able to mine against the early guys that have all the hardware. So I came up with the name Battlecoin rather solidify what we are doing. We are battling for hashpower and BCX will give the opportunity for anyone (with enough battlecoins) be able to have control of a comparable amount of hashpower that the elite crypto whales have.
We also have a little controversy that surrounds us, as some people would say that we are waging war on altcoins by the nature of what we are doing. People will Battle it out to keep control of our hashpower. It could possibly lock some of the weaker coins ...for instance if we are paid to switch to a coin with low difficulty or one that has low network support on average and we are paid to drive the difficulty up .
There are several things that could happen to some coins... Bad things they might not react how the developers have intended. We might fork coins or even lock coins up when our pool stops mining. So not everyone will like us. So here again another battle to try to walk a public relations line. So in short, I would say that Battlecoin represents all of the battles we have gone through and the many more we have in front of us.
We also have other app ideas that would complement the Battlecoin Brand.
AT: Nice :)
Do you watch anime/read manga, Naruto, more specifically? I mean, Battlecoin project is like an army that will, more than just fight, direct the ways of the wars by influencing/disrupting the market by its own will or by contract?
JoA: Actually I do not, as my schedule does not permit such luxury... but my sister does and as a matter of fact she is a very good cartoon artist and most of her subjects are anime. But relation to any specific object or character is purely coincidental.
I will check it out now though =)
AT: I did that relation to Naruto because there is an organization called Akatsuki, and when you replied my first question, it immediately reminded me of them.
JoA: Nice.
AT: However, you did not reply my previous comment... but then I've got the idea correctly... or not?
JoA: Ask the question again and I will try to sum it up… (Jack remembers the question) “Battlecoin project is like an army that will, more than just fight, to direct the ways of the wars by influencing/disrupting the market by its own will or by contract?”
Yes exactly. It will do all of the above it will have a big influence in the market.
AT: I was just thinking about that.
JoA: Yes that is why such a controversy. There are people that don’t want to see this happen but I feel it is part of altcoin evolution.
AT: indeed. It’s like a new powerful ninja/warrior coming into the game, not seen since Satoshi's era.
JoA: Yes... You Get it.
AT: What about competitors? Is there anyone on the same level?
JoA: No. Not really. We are the only ones that I know of that is taking the multipool to this level. They have the hashpower but they do not let the public decide where to put it. They just follow an algorithm that directs to "most profitable" coin. We will give that, plus add some human power to the equation. As far as I know, we are the only one that is working on having a voting system that controls it.
Giving it that human element that other concepts lack.
AT: But it needs more than a swallow to make a summer... You do have some other strong companions, don't you? Also, you talk as "we".
Are there other Generals in Battlecoin army? Who are they?
JoA: Well, it was originally my concept but I could not embark on this project alone. I have one partner that is above the board Mr. Big. We Kind of met through a mutual acquaintance and formed a solid partnership. Mr. Big has several projects that I am not sure of what I have liberty to discuss but I do know one of those projects will be to provide hosting services and as I said before we are working on some application ideas that are still in concept.
I also have a private backer that would like to remain nameless. In addition, I have a few consultants that I work with too and I consider them a part of the team of course.
Our team is growing daily... and you have to remember this is a project that involves the community, so in my eyes they are part of US too.
AT: Yes... or all the strategy developed might go to the floor, since the project will require a LOT of hashpower...
JoA: I am hoping to have camaraderie developed and rivals be formed over this concept. I want people to be talking in War rooms about what coin they want to hit... Strategy for pump and dump coins, etc.
Yes, it will require a lot of hashpower and I hope that people will want to give us that hashpower, because they will get paid top $$ for that.
We won’t be making the revenue from the battlecoins that get spent... That money will be split between the miners in our pool as subsidy to make sure that they continue to make as much or more than they could make mining anywhere else.
AT: Now that the strategy has been covered and we are entering more into the battlefield grounds, when will the battles begin?
JoA: I cannot confirm a release date for Phase 3, which includes the "arena", but Phase 1 Will be open to the public on this Friday 9 minutes after 9 pm. The wallets will be linked on our website first then we will post on BCT and then we will have a Big giveaway starting shortly after to kick it all off.
I will also provide a mirror on Google drive. We should have a Block crawler and a faucet too, if all goes well.
AT: That sounds great. Andre Torres: So, during Phase 1, you will gather your ranks that will battle when Phase 3 starts... On what consists Phase 2?
JoA: Phase 2 will be where we determine the market value of a Battlecoin. It will need to be listed on an exchange to determine the FMV of the coin. We originally were going to dictate the price on our own exchange but we feel like to keep with the nature of crypto it would be best to let the free market decide. We have been in touch with a couple of exchanges that have interest in our idea as ours is one that would form a close relationship and provide an elevated amount of trade volume with the exchange that carries our brand .
AT: Battlecoin already have an exchange of preference? On the other hand, perhaps some exchange have already manifested interest on trading BCX with exclusivity?
JoA: I wish to decline to answer as negotiations are still going on.
AT: A wise decision. (laughs)
AT: Now, from the battlefield to the weapons of combat... could you talk a bit about the mechanics of Battlecoin?
JoA: It is pretty straightforward. We did a small pre-mine to make sure we had enough coin for the 3rd phase. And we are doing a small bonus block mine in the beginning to give all of our supporters plenty of Battlecoin to play with for the phase 3 open. And then from there it is a solid 50 coins a block every 2min we should find a block...
Difficulty adjusts every block with a 10-block look back. I think this will provide a very smooth operating coin providing plenty of coin to the market for the use of our services.
There will be a proof of stake 1% every 10 days with maturity of 20 days. This is to reward the users for holding our coin so they will have plenty to use when the time comes.
AT: As we finish this interview, any other comments you might like to add?
JoA: I think we have covered quite a bit and we have much more to come in the future. I appreciate all of your time and hard work!
AT: Me too. I am very glad of this talk and for having the opportunity of talking beforehand with the mastermind of a project than can be a huge game changer on cryptocurrency world.
JoA: Yes, it is nice to be able to talk directly to the people that make it happen. I wish I had back in the day... lol. The advantage and tools that the newcomers have…
AT: Let us make new days :)
This interview was made on 01-07-13, on #CryptoNerd mIRC channel. Portuguese and Spanish versions are available on criptonauta.net.
BCX refers to BattleCoinEXchange. It is not related in any form to BitcoinEXpress.
submitted by criptonauta to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

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