Thoughts on redlisting digital currencies : Bitcoin
Thoughts on redlisting digital currencies : Bitcoin
Bitcoin price today, BTC marketcap, chart, and info ...
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Operational Distributed Regulation for Bitcoin
On Bitcoin redlists - Kampoeng Review
I am Satoshi Nakamoto
I am Satoshi Nakamoto. Me and my friends are Satoshi Nakamoto. We invented Bitcoin as an independent currency for the new generation. Anyone trying to get Bitcoins redlisted didn't understand the concept and won't have long term success since the community has grown big. The process of a giving the world an independent new currency will continue. Anything which doesn't fit the concept will result in great riots. We are not worried that this will bring Bitcoin and the idea itself behind it down. You are doing great, keep it up. We love you, stay strong - for the future generations. Best, SN
Altcoins - Why redlisting bitcoins doesn't matter and why altcoins are actually the savior of bitcoin
Edit: I want to preface this by saying, especially for the mods, that this writing is NOT about altcoins destroying bitcoin or even competing with them, but proving how they strengthen bitcoin as a whole and will make this current controversy about redlisting moot. So there is a lot of talk right now about bitcoins being tainted, about this new proposed "redlisting" system, and about how it would destroy bitcoin. I say that it doesn't truly matter if bitcoin gains this redlisting system. There is an easy way around any attempt to redlist bitcoins: altcoins. Altcoins have long been viewed as a competitor to bitcoin. This is understandable as a lot of litecoin users and other major altcoin users have always tried to pump their coin as being "superior" to bitcoin in some way, shape, size, or form. what a lot of people haven't realized is that cryptocurrency as an idea is the future. We are seeing now exactly why having a single cryptocurrency is NOT a good idea. The same centralization that we fight against with bitcoins is what we espouse when we turn our backs on other coins... we're putting all of our eggs in one basket. But here's the deal, altcoins will not drop the value of bitcoin. If anything, altcoins will raise the value of bitcoin and prove why cryptocurrency is such a great idea. How will this happen? Well, let's say that enough influence is exerted in bitcoin to make this new redlisting system take place. Now your money is labeled bad if its passed through a tumbler, or comes from a darknet source. This is FINE! Why is it fine? Because you can still go to someone on the street and exchange your bitcoins for their altcoins. The bitcoins never have to touch a tumbler, they never have to go to the darknet. You send the altcoin to the darknet, buy something, send it through a tumbler, whatever you want to do. You then buy bitcoins again later down the line with your altcoins. The bitcoins NEVER become dirty. The altcoins don't even have to be spendable or fungible into any USD/government currency, although I'm sure many merchants will take them. The altcoins themselves become your access to a tumbler, your way of exchanging currency in the darknet. This makes bitcoin stronger because you can maintain a currency that everyone views as legitimate and never have to redlist it, even though pro-regulation people buy into this idea that "redlisting" woks. If their argument is that it makes bitcoin more fungible, so be it. However, it is because of altcoins that redlisting will never work. Face to face transactions of altcoins to bitcoins and vice-versa will never be redlisted. Your money is safe. From the comments, a simple step by step of how this would work: The bitcoin never has to be tainted. Put it this way: 1) I buy clean bitcoins from an exchange. 2) I want to send the bitcoins to any particular darknet site or tumbler. 3) To do this, I take my clean bitcoins and exchange them for an altcoin through any online exchange or through any individual on the street. The bitcoins are still clean. 4) I send the altcoins to a tumbler, a darknet site, whatever you want to do. 5) I sell the altcoins back for more clean bitcoins, either face to face or on many exchanges that will allow this. 6) I still have clean bitcoins, but I have successfully tumbled them through the use of an altcoin, or successfully spent them in the darknet, etc.
With all the controversy of the redlisting of Bitcoin, I decided to start using some blog I made awhile back and chip in on the issue. Short version - current proposal is bad, but with a more narrow scope it could be used for good
I gave up investing more money into bitcoin after this "redlist" talk
For the first time I realize bitcoin might have a crucial flaw. Government might demand that transactions involve only greenlisted coins. It destroys bitcoins' fungibility and ranting alone won't stop it. I am deeply worried. What would Satoshi say? If only he came back to speak a few words... What do the coredevs have to say?
Mike Hearn, Chair of the Bitcoin Foundation's Law & Policy committee is also pushing blacklists behind the scenes
Bitcointalk discussion: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=333824.msg3581480#msg3581480 Hearn posted the following message to the legal section of the members-only foundation forum: https://bitcoinfoundation.org/forum/index.php?/topic/505-coin-tracking/ If you're not a member, you don't have access. I obtained this with the help of a foundation member who asked to remain private. He's promoted blacklists before, but Hearn is now a Bitcoin Foundation insider and as Chair of the Foundations Law & Policy committee he is pushing the Foundation to adopt policies approving the idea of blacklisting coins. I also find it darkly amusing that he's now decided to call the idea "redlists", perhaps he has learned a thing or two about PR in the past few months. All Bitcoin investors need to make it loud and clear that attacking the decentralization and fungibility of our coins is unacceptable. We need to demand that Hearn disclose any and all involvement with the Coin Validation startup. We need to demand that the Foundation make a clear statement that they do not and will not support blacklists. We need to demand that the Foundation support and will continue to support technologies such as CoinJoin and CoinSwap to ensure all Bitcoin owners can transact without revealing private financial information. Anything less is unacceptable. Remember that the value of your Bitcoins depends on you being able to spend them.
I would like to start a discussion and brainstorming session on the topic of coin tracking/tainting or as I will call it here, "redlisting". Specifically, what I mean is something like this: Consider an output that is involved with some kind of crime, like a theft or extortion. A "redlist" is an automatically maintained list of outputs derived from that output, along with some description of why the coins are being tracked. When you receive funds that inherit the redlisting, your wallet client would highlight this in the user interface. Some basic information about why the coins are on the redlist would be presented. You can still spend or use these coins as normal, the highlight is only informational. To clear it, you can contact the operator of the list and say, hello, here I am, I am innocent and if anyone wants to follow up and talk to me, here's how. Then the outputs are unmarked from that point onwards. For instance, this process could be automated and also built into the wallet. I have previously elaborated on such a scheme in more detail here, along with a description of how you can avoid the redlist operator learning anything about the list's users, like who is looking up an output or who found a match. Lately I was thinking about this in the context of CryptoLocker, which seems like it has the potential to seriously damage Bitcoin's reputation. The drug war is one thing - the politics of that are very complex. Extortion is something else entirely. At the moment apparently most people are paying the ransom with Green Dot MoneyPak, but it seems likely that future iterations will only accept Bitcoin. Specifically, threads like this one concern me a lot. Summary: a little old lady was trying to buy bitcoins via the Canada ATM because she got a CryptoLocker infection. She has no clue what Bitcoin is beyond the fact that she needed some and didn't know what to do. The risk/reward ratio for this kind of ransomware seems wildly out of proportion - Tor+Bitcoin together mean it takes huge effort to find the perpetrators and the difficulty of creating such a virus is very low. Also, the amount of money being made can be estimated from the block chain, and it's quite large. So it seems likely that even if law enforcement is able to take down the current CryptoLocker operation, more will appear in its place. I don't have any particular opinion on what we should talk about. I'm aware of the arguments for and against such a scheme. I'm interested in new insights or thoughts. You can review the bitcointalk thread on decentralised crime fighting to get a feel for what has already been said. I think this is a topic on which the Foundation should eventually arrive at a coherent policy for. Of course I know that won't be easy. -Mike Hearn
Want to DO something to solve the CoInvalidation problem NOW? Donate to the CoinJoin bounty. CoinJoin is a simple solution that can be implemented relatively easily and QUICKLY. It does not require a fork. It is not an altcoin.
Litecoin developers will NEVER fork Litecoin to reverse transactions
In lite of what happened with Vericoin recently (http://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-protected-vericoin-stolen-mintpal-wallet-breach/), I just wanted to make this clear. As developers of a decentralized crypto-currency, it is our duty to make sure that the network is secure and that Litecoin functions well as a easy-to-use and efficient currency. It is not in our rights to decide which coins belong to whom. The rules are set forth since the genesis block and cannot be changed. If a theft happens on top of the network, the developers will not fork the coin to reverse any transactions. It is up to the market to decide on how to handle the theft. That said, Vericoin developers were put in a bad position. Vericoin is a proof of stake coin, so the thief will actually have a lot of stake and can further attack the coin. So the Vericoin devs almost had to do this to prevent future attacks on the coin. This is why I don't believe PoS is a viable alternative to PoW. I don't believe in blacklisting (or redlisting) any coins. First of all, there is no way to know for sure that the coins were indeed stolen. The developers should not be put in the position to make this decision, and you wouldn't want us to. Secondly, blacklisting hurts the fungibility of Litecoin, which is critical for Litecoin's success. When someone receives a litecoin for payment, he should not have to worry if that litecoin was ever stolen. Also, in case it wasn't obvious, the developers will not change the core economics of Litecoin. The final number of coins (84 million) and the rate of mining rewards decrease (halving every 4 years) will never be changed.
Reflections on Bitcoin's problems over the years (can we get a sticky or sidebar link with some Lightning Network content?)
In the days before we had the luxury of worrying about Bitcoin's scaling, we focused endlessly on other problems and imperfections of the protocol. Back then, we'd talk about confirmation times. Ten minutes was far too long for much of commerce and as Meni Rosenfeld showed, the oft-repeated "I'd rather have one 10 minute block's security than five 2-minute blocks" was exactly wrong. You learn a little more, and you realize that bitcoin's security is really all-or-nothing. Unconfirmed transactions, properly understood, are not transactions at all. Miners have no obligation to "drop" them after a few days, so the coins can disappear from your wallet even if your node has forgotten. Furthermore, the "safety" of 0-conf was widely misunderstood--the policy of honoring the first-seen transaction wasn't a consensus one, so miners have always been able to collude with double-spenders if they wanted to. Fungibility and anonymity were other major concerns. Every single coin has a unique history and is "tainted" by it. If governments want, they can easily blacklist particular Bitcoins, be they stolen, used in the drug trade, or simply suspect. We worried about Mike Hearn's possible connections to similar "redlisting" of coins and had endless discussions about the anti-anonymous nature of the bitcoin network. Personally, I've followed threads and topics such as this which relate to the equilibrium transaction fee when the block reward ends or reduces in value. In short, if there's no transaction backlog (and assuming competitive markets, etc), users have no incentive to pay anything more than 1 Satoshi per transaction, because larger blocks don't take more work to mine. Zero marginal cost means zero price. The Bitcoin Cash community denies this. I can provide more references if people are curious. Over time, it's become clear to us who have been following bitcoin closely for years, and even to many of you newbies, that blockchains cannot scale through on-chain transactions (without sacrificing decentralization, which is the point: e.g. if you can't run your own node, you simplycan't knowif there are still only 21,000,000 bitcoins, or that you have any of them). It turns out, all of these problems are addressed or hugely mitigated by the LN. It is such a remarkable fact that it suggests that Bitcoin is meant to be used as a fundamental settlement layer for LN transactions. Luke Dashjr seems to think so. With a little thought, it makes some sense: scaling Bitcoin is hard because you're telling the entire world to perpetually store and propagate your transactions--this also creates a public graph that can be analyzed by hackers, governments, or snoops. Almost all LN transactions are not stored, are only communicated between sender and receiver, and are onion-routed so traffic analysis is impossible. That they are communicated only between sender and receiver also means that Bitcoin's blockchain isn't needed to synchronize their transaction--thus, instant "confirmation" with no chance of double spends. Lastly, this isn't vaporware. Right now, The (yes, The) Lightning Network is a protocol with multiple fully interoperable implementations (so all LN nodes can participate in a single network). This is the fully-realized version of what had been theorized for at least 5 years and is the solution to problems we've been complaining about for almost all of Bitcoin's existence. For a basic intro to the LN, please read What is the Lightning Network and how can it help Bitcoin scale? and the links inside, check out Lightning Protocol 1.0: Compatibility Achieved and other info suggested by the commenters below.
tl:dr version; We can change the Bitcoin code to make their validation system obsolete. Long Version; Here are some concepts we need to keep in mind.
The USA is relatively small, even more so when it comes to Bitcoin. (This concept is hard for Americans to realize)
The US GOVT likes to play whack-a-mole instead of actually solving something. Like silk road and silk road 2.0
With these in mind here are the reasons I am not worried.
If they build this system they will rely on the current Bitcoin code for it to work. They will rely on being able to look at the block-chain and follow paths. We can hard fork left (change Bitcoin code) and make it impossible to track Bitcoins to the source.
Mixing services will explode and gain popularity. Lets say you got a redlisted coin from an exchange. (you will seek this option)
If they somehow sneak in a new code and miners accept it (noobs) we can always hard fork left and change it back.
We will have to fight for a while since they will try to update their validation system instead of coming to a compromise, (whack-a-mole). I believe a good one can be made.
Who cares what the 1% or foundation does. Bitcoin is a true DEMOCRACY in the way that we vote. They will either have to compromise or pay off 51% of the miners to accept or reject new code. And everyday we become stronger.
Note: These are just my opinions I may be horribly wrong. I am open to arguments.
Tainted bitcoins - why they don't matter and why altcoins will save bitcoins, boosting both currencies
So there is a lot of talk right now about bitcoins being tainted, about this new proposed "redlisting" system, and about how it would destroy bitcoin. I say that it doesn't truly matter if bitcoin gains this redlisting system. There is an easy way around any attempt to redlist bitcoins: altcoins. Altcoins have long been viewed as a competitor to bitcoin. This is understandable as a lot of litecoin users and other major altcoin users have always tried to pump their coin as being "superior" to bitcoin in some way, shape, size, or form. what a lot of people haven't realized is that cryptocurrency as an idea is the future. We are seeing now exactly why having a single cryptocurrency is NOT a good idea. The same centralization that we fight against with bitcoins is what we espouse when we turn our backs on other coins... we're putting all of our eggs in one basket. But here's the deal, altcoins will not drop the value of bitcoin. If anything, altcoins will raise the value of bitcoin and prove why cryptocurrency is such a great idea. How will this happen? Well, let's say that enough influence is exerted in bitcoin to make this new redlisting system take place. Now your money is labeled bad if its passed through a tumbler, or comes from a darknet source. This is FINE! Why is it fine? Because you can still go to someone on the street and exchange your bitcoins for their altcoins. The bitcoins never have to touch a tumbler, they never have to go to the darknet. You send the altcoin to the darknet, buy something, send it through a tumbler, whatever you want to do. You then buy bitcoins again later down the line with your altcoins. The bitcoins NEVER become dirty. The altcoins don't even have to be spendable or fungible into any USD/government currency, although I'm sure many merchants will take them. The altcoins themselves become your access to a tumbler, your way of exchanging currency in the darknet. This makes bitcoin stronger because you can maintain a currency that everyone views as legitimate and never have to redlist it, even though pro-regulation people buy into this idea that "redlisting" woks. If their argument is that it makes bitcoin more fungible, so be it. However, it is because of altcoins that redlisting will never work. Face to face transactions of altcoins to bitcoins and vice-versa will never be redlisted. Your money is safe. From the comments, a simple step by step of how this would work: The bitcoin never has to be tainted. Put it this way: 1) I buy clean bitcoins from an exchange. 2) I want to send the bitcoins to any particular darknet site or tumbler. 3) To do this, I take my clean bitcoins and exchange them for an altcoin through any online exchange or through any individual on the street. The bitcoins are still clean. 4) I send the altcoins to a tumbler, a darknet site, whatever you want to do. 5) I sell the altcoins back for more clean bitcoins, either face to face or on many exchanges that will allow this. 6) I still have clean bitcoins, but I have successfully tumbled them through the use of an altcoin, or successfully spent them in the darknet, etc.
Already we've compromised by agreeing to a worst-case 4MB block size while experimental evidence shows problems emerging at 3MB (and the compromise of spending our available time on this issue instead of fungibility fixes to the more pressing existential threat of chain analytics and redlisting).
The Mike Hearn Show: Season Finale (and Bitcoin Classic: Series Premiere)
This post debunks Mike Hearn's conspiracy theories RE Blockstream in his farewell post and points out issues with the behavior of the Bitcoin Classic hard fork and sketchy tactics of its advocates I used to be torn on how to judge Mike Hearn. On the one hand he has done some good work with BitcoinJ, Lighthouse etc. Certainly his choice of bloom filter has had a net negative effect on the privacy of SPV users, but all in all it works as advertised.* On the other hand, he has single handedly advocated for some of the most alarming behavior changes in the Bitcoin network (e.g. redlists, coinbase reallocation, BIP101 etc...) to date. Not to mention his advocacy in the past year has degraded from any semblance of professionalism into an adversarial us-vs-them propaganda train. I do not believe his long history with the Bitcoin community justifies this adversarial attitude. As a side note, this post should not be taken as unabated support for Bitcoin Core. Certainly the dev team is made of humans and like all humans mistakes can be made (e.g. March 2013 fork). Some have even engaged in arguably unprofessional behavior but I have not yet witnessed any explicitly malicious activity from their camp (q). If evidence to the contrary can be provided, please share it. Thankfully the development of Bitcoin Core happens more or less completely out in the open; anyone can audit and monitor the goings on. I personally check the repo at least once a day to see what work is being done. I believe that the regular committers are genuinely interested in the overall well being of the Bitcoin network and work towards the common goal of maintaining and improving Core and do their best to juggle the competing interests of the community that depends on them. That is not to say that they are The Only Ones; for the time being they have stepped up to the plate to do the heavy lifting. Until that changes in some way they have my support. The hard line that some of the developers have drawn in regards to the block size has caused a serious rift and this write up is a direct response to oft-repeated accusations made by Mike Hearn and his supporters about members of the core development team. I have no affiliations or connection with Blockstream, however I have met a handful of the core developers, both affiliated and unaffiliated with Blockstream. Mike opens his farewell address with his pedigree to prove his opinion's worth. He masterfully washes over the mountain of work put into improving Bitcoin Core over the years by the "small blockians" to paint the picture that Blockstream is stonewalling the development of Bitcoin. The folks who signed Greg's scalability road map have done some of the most important, unsung work in Bitcoin. Performance improvements, privacy enhancements, increased reliability, better sync times, mempool management, bandwidth reductions etc... all those things are thanks to the core devs and the research community (e.g. Christian Decker), many of which will lead to a smoother transition to larger blocks (e.g. libsecp256k1).(1) While ignoring previous work and harping on the block size exclusively, Mike accuses those same people who have spent countless hours working on the protocol of trying to turn Bitcoin into something useless because they remain conservative on a highly contentious issue that has tangible effects on network topology. The nature of this accusation is characteristic of Mike's attitude over the past year which marked a shift in the block size debate from a technical argument to a personal one (in tandem with DDoS and censorship in /Bitcoin and general toxicity from both sides). For example, Mike claimed that sidechains constitutes a conflict of interest, as Blockstream employees are "strongly incentivized to ensure [bitcoin] works poorly and never improves" despite thousands of commits to the contrary. Many of these commits are top down rewrites of low level Bitcoin functionality, not chump change by any means. I am not just "counting commits" here. Anyways, Blockstream's current client base consists of Bitcoin exchanges whose future hinges on the widespread adoption of Bitcoin. The more people that use Bitcoin the more demand there will be for sidechains to service the Bitcoin economy. Additionally, one could argue that if there was some sidechain that gained significant popularity (hundreds of thousands of users), larger blocks would be necessary to handle users depositing and withdrawing funds into/from the sidechain. Perhaps if they were miners and core devs at the same time then a conflict of interest on small blocks would be a more substantive accusation (create artificial scarcity to increase tx fees). The rational behind pricing out the Bitcoin "base" via capacity constraint to increase their business prospects as a sidechain consultancy is contrived and illogical. If you believe otherwise I implore you to share a detailed scenario in your reply so I can see if I am missing something. Okay, so back to it. Mike made the right move when Core would not change its position, he forked Core and gave the community XT. The choice was there, most miners took a pass. Clearly there was not consensus on Mike's proposed scaling road map or how big blocks should be rolled out. And even though XT was a failure (mainly because of massive untested capacity increases which were opposed by some of the larger pools whose support was required to activate the 75% fork), it has inspired a wave of implementation competition. It should be noted that the censorship and attacks by members of /Bitcoin is completely unacceptable, there is no excuse for such behavior. While theymos is entitled to run his subreddit as he sees fit, if he continues to alienate users there may be a point of mass exodus following some significant event in the community that he tries to censor. As for the DDoS attackers, they should be ashamed of themselves; it is recommended that alt. nodes mask their user agents. Although Mike has left the building, his alarmist mindset on the block size debate lives on through Bitcoin Classic, an implementation which is using a more subtle approach to inspire adoption, as jtoomim cozies up with miners to get their support while appealing to the masses with a call for an adherence to Satoshi's "original vision for Bitcoin." That said, it is not clear that he is competent enough to lead the charge on the maintenance/improvement of the Bitcoin protocol. That leaves most of the heavy lifting up to Gavin, as Jeff has historically done very little actual work for Core. We are thus in a potentially more precarious situation then when we were with XT, as some Chinese miners are apparently "on board" for a hard fork block size increase. Jtoomim has expressed a willingness to accept an exceptionally low (60 or 66%) consensus threshold to activate the hard fork if necessary. Why? Because of the lost "opportunity cost" of the threshold not being reached.(c) With variance my guess is that a lucky 55% could activate that 60% threshold. That's basically two Chinese miners. I don't mean to attack him personally, he is just willing to go down a path that requires the support of only two major Chinese mining pools to activate his hard fork. As a side effect of the latency issues of GFW, a block size increase might increase orphan rate outside of GFW, profiting the Chinese pools. With a 60% threshold there is no way for miners outside of China to block that hard fork. To compound the popularity of this implementation, the efforts of Mike, Gavin and Jeff have further blinded many within the community to the mountain of effort that core devs have put in. And it seems to be working, as they are beginning to successfully ostracize the core devs beyond the network of "true big block-believers." It appears that Chinese miners are getting tired of the debate (and with it Core) and may shift to another implementation over the issue.(d) Some are going around to mining pools and trying to undermine Core's position in the soft vs. hard fork debate. These private appeals to the miner community are a concern because there is no way to know if bad information is being passed on with the intent to disrupt Core's consensus based approach to development in favor of an alternative implementation controlled (i.e. benevolent dictator) by those appealing directly to miners. If the core team is reading this, you need to get out there and start pushing your agenda so the community has a better understanding of what you all do every day and how important the work is. Get some fancy videos up to show the effects of block size increase and work on reading materials that are easy for non technically minded folk to identify with and get behind. The soft fork debate really highlights the disingenuity of some of these actors. Generally speaking, soft forks are easier on network participants who do not regularly keep up with the network's software updates or have forked the code for personal use and are unable to upgrade in time, while hard forks require timely software upgrades if the user hopes to maintain consensus after a hardfork. The merits of that argument come with heavy debate. However, more concerning is the fact that hard forks require central planning and arguably increase the power developers have over changes to the protocol.(2) In contrast, the 'signal of readiness' behavior of soft forks allows the network to update without any hardcoded flags and developer oversight. Issues with hard forks are further compounded by activation thresholds, as soft forks generally require 95% consensus while Bitcoin Classic only calls for 60-75% consensus, exposing network users to a greater risk of competing chains after the fork. Mike didn't want to give the Chinese any more power, but now the post XT fallout has pushed the Chinese miners right into the Bitcoin Classic drivers seat. While a net split did happen briefly during the BIP66 soft fork, imagine that scenario amplified by miners who do not agree to hard fork changes while controlling 25-40% of the networks hashing power. Two actively mined chains with competing interests, the Doomsday Scenario. With a 5% miner hold out on a soft fork, the fork will constantly reorg and malicious transactions will rarely have more than one or two confirmations.(b) During a soft fork, nodes can protect themselves from double spends by waiting for extra confirmations when the node alerts the user that a ANYONECANSPEND transaction has been seen. Thus, soft forks give Bitcoin users more control over their software (they can choose to treat a softfork as a soft fork or a soft fork as a hardfork) which allows for greater flexibility on upgrade plans for those actively maintaining nodes and other network critical software. (2) Advocating for a low threshold hard forks is a step in the wrong direction if we are trying to limit the "central planning" of any particular implementation. However I do not believe that is the main concern of the Bitcoin Classic devs. To switch gears a bit, Mike is ironically concerned China "controls" Bitcoin, but wanted to implement a block size increase that would only increase their relative control (via increased orphans). Until the p2p wire protocol is significantly improved (IBLT, etc...), there is very little room (if any at all) to raise the block size without significantly increasing orphan risk. This can be easily determined by looking at jtoomim's testnet network data that passed through normal p2p network, not the relay network.(3) In the mean time this will only get worse if no one picks up the slack on the relay network that Matt Corallo is no longer maintaining. (4) Centralization is bad regardless of the block size, but Mike tries to conflate the centralization issues with the Blockstream block size side show for dramatic effect. In retrospect, it would appear that the initial lack of cooperation on a block size increase actually staved off increases in orphan risk. Unfortunately, this centralization metric will likely increase with the cooperation of Chinese miners and Bitcoin Classic if major strides to reduce orphan rates are not made. Mike also manages to link to a post from the ProHashing guy RE forever-stuck transactions, which has been shown to generally be the result of poorly maintained/improperly implemented wallet software.(6) Ultimately Mike wants fees to be fixed despite the fact you can't enforce fixed fees in a system that is not centrally planned. Miners could decide to raise their minimum fees even when blocks are >1mb, especially when blocks become too big to reliably propagate across the network without being orphaned. What is the marginal cost for a tx that increases orphan risk by some %? That is a question being explored with flexcaps. Even with larger blocks, if miners outside the GFW fear orphans they will not create the bigger blocks without a decent incentive; in other words, even with a larger block size you might still end up with variable fees. Regardless, it is generally understood that variable fees are not preferred from a UX standpoint, but developers of Bitcoin software do not have the luxury of enforcing specific fees beyond basic defaults hardcoded to prevent cheap DoS attacks. We must expose the user to just enough information so they can make an informed decision without being overwhelmed. Hard? Yes. Impossible. No. Shifting gears, Mike states that current development progress via segwit is an empty ploy, despite the fact that segwit comes with not only a marginal capacity increase, but it also plugs up major malleability vectors, allows pruning blocks for historical data and a bunch of other fun stuff. It's a huge win for unconfirmed transactions (which Mike should love). Even if segwit does require non-negligible changes to wallet software and Bitcoin Core (500 lines LoC), it allows us time to improve block relay (IBLT, weak blocks) so we can start raising the block size without fear of increased orphan rate. Certainly we can rush to increase the block size now and further exacerbate the China problem, or we can focus on the "long play" and limit negative externalities. And does segwit help the Lightning Network? Yes. Is that something that indicates a Blockstream conspiracy? No. Comically, the big blockians used to criticize Blockstream for advocating for LN when there was no one working on it, but now that it is actively being developed, the tune has changed and everything Blockstream does is a conspiracy to push for Bitcoin's future as a dystopic LN powered settlement network. Is LN "the answer?" Obviously not, most don't actually think that. How it actually works in practice is yet to be seen and there could be unforseen emergent characteristics that make it less useful for the average user than originally thought. But it's a tool that should be developed in unison with other scaling measures if only for its usefulness for instant txs and micropayments. Regardless, the fundamental divide rests on ideological differences that we all know well. Mike is fine with the miner-only validation model for nodes and is willing to accept some miner centralization so long as he gets the necessary capacity increases to satisfy his personal expectations for the immediate future of Bitcoin. Greg and co believe that a distributed full node landscape helps maintain a balance of decentralization in the face of the miner centralization threat. For example, if you have 10 miners who are the only sources for blockchain data then you run the risk of undetectable censorship, prolific sybil attacks, and no mechanism for individuals to validate the network without trusting a third party. As an analogy, take the tor network: you use it with an expectation of privacy while understanding that the multi-hop nature of the routing will increase latency. Certainly you could improve latency by removing a hop or two, but with it you lose some privacy. Does tor's high latency make it useless? Maybe for watching Netflix, but not for submitting leaked documents to some newspaper. I believe this is the philosophy held by most of the core development team. Mike does not believe that the Bitcoin network should cater to this philosophy and any activity which stunts the growth of on-chain transactions is a direct attack on the protocol. Ultimately however I believe Greg and co. also want Bitcoin to scale on-chain transactions as much as possible. They believe that in order for Bitcoin to increase its capacity while adhering to acceptable levels of decentralization, much work needs to be done. It's not a matter of if block size will be increased, but when. Mike has confused this adherence to strong principles of decentralization as disingenuous and a cover up for a dystopic future of Bitcoin where sidechains run wild with financial institutions paying $40 per transaction. Again, this does not make any sense to me. If banks are spending millions to co-op this network what advantage does a decentralized node landscape have to them? There are a few roads that the community can take now: one where we delay a block size increase while improvements to the protocol are made (with the understanding that some users may have to wait a few blocks to have their transaction included, fees will be dependent on transaction volume, and transactions <$1 may be temporarily cost ineffective) so that when we do increase the block size, orphan rate and node drop off are insignificant. Another is the immediate large block size increase which possibly leads to a future Bitcoin which looks nothing like it does today: low numbers of validating nodes, heavy trust in centralized network explorers and thus a more vulnerable network to government coercion/general attack. Certainly there are smaller steps for block size increases which might not be as immediately devastating, and perhaps that is the middle ground which needs to be trodden to appease those who are emotionally invested in a bigger block size. Combined with segwit however, max block sizes could reach unacceptable levels. There are other scenarios which might play out with competing chains etc..., but in that future Bitcoin has effectively failed. As any technology that requires maintenance and human interaction, Bitcoin will require politicking for decision making. Up until now that has occurred via the "vote download" for software which implements some change to the protocol. I believe this will continue to be the most robust of options available to us. Now that there is competition, the Bitcoin Core community can properly advocate for changes to the protocol that it sees fit without being accused of co-opting the development of Bitcoin. An ironic outcome to the situation at hand. If users want their Bitcoins to remain valuable, they must actively determine which developers are most competent and have their best interests at heart. So far the core dev community has years of substantial and successful contributions under its belt, while the alt implementations have a smattering of developers who have not yet publicly proven (besides perhaps Gavin--although his early mistakes with block size estimates is concerning) they have the skills and endurance necessary to maintain a full node implementation. Perhaps now it is time that we focus on the personalities who many want to trust Bitcoin's future. Let us see if they can improve the speed at which signatures are validated by 7x. Or if they can devise privacy preserving protocols like Confidential Transactions. Or can they figure out ways to improve traversal times across a merkle tree? Can they implement HD functionality into a wallet without any coin-crushing bugs? Can they successfully modularize their implementation without breaking everything? If so, let's welcome them with open arms. But Mike is at R3 now, which seems like a better fit for him ideologically. He can govern the rules with relative impunity and there is not a huge community of open source developers, researchers and enthusiasts to disagree with. I will admit, his posts are very convincing at first blush, but ultimately they are nothing more than a one sided appeal to the those in the community who have unrealistic or incomplete understandings of the technical challenges faced by developers maintaining a consensus critical, validation-heavy, distributed system that operates within an adversarial environment. Mike always enjoyed attacking Blockstream, but when survey his past behavior it becomes clear that his motives were not always pure. Why else would you leave with such a nasty, public farewell? To all the XT'ers, btc'ers and so on, I only ask that you show some compassion when you critique the work of Bitcoin Core devs. We understand you have a competing vision for the scaling of Bitcoin over the next few years. They want Bitcoin to scale too, you just disagree on how and when it should be done. Vilifying and attacking the developers only further divides the community and scares away potential future talent who may want to further the Bitcoin cause. Unless you can replace the folks doing all this hard work on the protocol or can pay someone equally as competent, please think twice before you say something nasty. As for Mike, I wish you the best at R3 and hope that you can one day return to the Bitcoin community with a more open mind. It must hurt having your software out there being used by so many but your voice snuffed. Hopefully one day you can return when many of the hard problems are solved (e.g. reduced propagation delays, better access to cheap bandwidth) and the road to safe block size increases have been paved. (*) https://eprint.iacr.org/2014/763.pdf (q) https://github.com/bitcoinclassic/bitcoinclassic/pull/6 (b) https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/pipermail/bitcoin-dev/2015-Decembe012026.html (c) https://github.com/bitcoinclassic/bitcoinclassic/pull/1#issuecomment-170299027 (d) http://toom.im/jameshilliard_classic_PR_1.html (0) http://bitcoinstats.com/irc/bitcoin-dev/logs/2016/01/06 (1) https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/graphs/contributors (2) https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/pipermail/bitcoin-dev/2015-Decembe012014.html (3) https://toom.im/blocktime (beware of heavy website) (4) https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=766190.msg13510513#msg13510513 (5) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10774773 (6) http://rusty.ozlabs.org/?p=573 edit, fixed some things. edit 2, tried to clarify some more things and remove some personal bias thanks to astro
Why BitcoinXT Is the Worst Blunder in Bitcoin's History
Short Version: Bitcoin XT coup d'etat
popularity of Bitcoin continues to surge despite cracks in Nielsen's Law and Moore's Law
with no way of backing out of 8GB blocks, and with bandwidth requirements impossible to achieve by individuals, full nodes become exclusively the domain of ISPs, big banks, and Government
with Banks, ISPs and Governments being the only users of full nodes, a coup d'etat is launched to add redlisting and KYC to Bitcoin
with global adoption of Bitcoin, the coup d'etat means all of humanity is doomed with using an unfree cryptocurrency, forever
Is it worth it to look back in the year 2036 at what happened?
In 2015, 8GB blocks were locked in, by "the economic majority" of 2015 (who are now the nouveau rich), spurred on by the highly controversial work of two "popular" developers with possible ties to CIA
In the year 2036, big banks, government, and ISPs are the only organizations capable of affording the high speed internet and hardware frameworks needed for running a full node
Individuals composing the true economic majority of 2036 lose all ability to run full nodes
Big banks, government, and ISPs elect to add redlisting and KYC to the Bitcoin network. The Winkdex is by then globally established, and you can no longer send over $1,000 in value on the Bitcoin network without scanning your passport.
There is precedent, e.g. Tesla, for world superpowers to tactically censor public access to technology to maintain the upper hand militarily. They could do exactly this to Bitcoin by sabotaging the rollout of high speed internet access so that only ISPs, big banks and governments could run full nodes come 2036 with 8GB blocks. This shouldn't even be an OPTION. Why is it worth it?! There is no evidence to suggest that Mike Hearn and Gavin Andresen, but especially Mike, aren't working with the intelligence communities - this given Mike's historical "advocacy" of Tor hidden service censorship and redlisting. Recall the intelligence community have official budgets laid out in the tens of millions for corrupting open source software. BITCOIN IS A TARGET. How else did you think they would seek control over Bitcoin? If we fork to XT, it is fully conceivable world demand for Bitcoin far outstrips the individual's ability to run full nodes. Free and open access to the Bitcoin blockchain could be forever lost.
As the title says, I'm new to LC and i'm very interested in it, I have a good sumof money I can put into this, but what are the benefits? Will LC fade out of bitcoin grows to much or will it follow n its tracks if bitcoin sky rockets.
Bitcoin's whitepaper title is the best argument for a conservative blocksize limit!
A lot of people have used the whitepaper title, "P2P eletronic cash system", to endorse very big or unlimited blocks, but I think the whitepaper title is actually the best argument for the importance of a conservative blocksize limit. Here's why: 1 – P2P's design is intended to protect the system from very powerful potential attackers. It's obviously not P2P in the sense of UbeAirbnb (user<>user+centralized intermediary), it's P2P in the sense of BitTorrent, of open-source, of censorship resistance through decentralization. 2 – Cash is the primary use case Bitcoin was designed for. Cash/currency is involved in basically ALL economic activity of humanity, so there's possibly no better value proposition then a global cash system. This is priority. 3 – If blocks were so big that average users couldn't run nodes, then only regulated companies (or identifiable by ISPs) would run nodes. In this scenario states could much easily force policies to node updates, such as "redlistings", KYC, non-fungibility, etc. Furthermore, if most nodes were being maintained by micro-transaction/non-cash companies, then those companies would not have much incentive to protect essential characteristics of cash, such as fungibility and censorship resistance. 4 – Spamming or incentivizing non cash/microtransaction activity in the network is an easy attack vector that States could use to centralize the system and exercise power over it. The blocksize limit is currently the only known way to protect the Bitcoin protocol from this attack vector. It's a security parameter. 5 – SegWit is a great solution because it increases the blocksize limit conservatively due to real demand, improves several scalability issues and allows efficient layer 2 for micro/smaller transactions. If all the energy and resources that "big-blockers" wasted in this block-size war were redirected to help SegWit's progress and building a lightning network, we would have faster, safer and MUCH greater scalability achievements. Besides, Bitcoin price would be MUCH higher. *Feedback would be greatly appreciated so that I can check if my understanding is correct.
Why we are all so concerned about coin value sabotage
I was reading a comment thread here, and I noticed that some people here still have not understood what is at stake here. Lemme explain with a quote:
Nobody's "mandating" anything, nor would anything be mandated. Afraid of the government? They would have just as much poweauthority/gumption to attack bitcoin with our without any "redlist." That's not what's stopping them.
This person hasn't understood the business of governments at all. Sure, technically, they could just round up every bitcoiner, force them to give up their coins, and shoot them several times over if they resist. But they cannot get away with that for very long, because then they are perceived as common criminals and eventually people start shooting back, or fleeing like Jews fled Germany. Government business thus can only ever work behind a semblance of false legitimacy. Which it why government needs to make up a sin, to find an excuse to assault you or ruin you. Once they have done that, they have a plausible, believable "reason" to create a dual caste of subjects based on that sin, and to ruin anyone in the caste of those who commit or have committed that "sin". They can ruin you and then turn around and tell everyone "well, because he did this, he is a sinner, therefore our assault is just and virtuous". Key word because. In this case, the "sin" is financial privacy, the feature that enables the "sin" is coin fungibility, and the excuse they can use to assault the "sinners" is coin tainting. Their game, first and foremost, is epistemic assault - it is to falsely redefine a perfectly decent and peaceful act, which threatens their control, into an evil. This is why it is of the utmost importance to push back against the sin and to discredit the excuse. Cos, if we don't do that, then when the new sin has been instituted and the excuse implemented, it will become the new normal when people get their coins robbed or void by government, after they attempt some semblance of financial privacy using bitcoins. Yes, you will turn around and scoff at your fellow Bitcoiners (now outlaws), and blame them for whatever the authorities do to them. This destroys the value of Bitcoin as a system of value storage and value exchange. This is literally how they burn your money... even if you snitch on yourself.
You cannot win the legal, the technological, the social wars, if you lose the epistemic battle.
Privacy is a virtue, especially when you can turn it on or off at will. If you utter the word “privacy” regarding Internet (and thus, cryptocurrencies), some people will immediately think "drugs" or even "pedo-pornography". And you will hear the famous "I have nothing to hide". "Privacy is not about lawbreaking, its about privacy" (NL). So let’s debunk this. First, whether or not we have something to hide, we almost certainly have something to protect. Second, not only is privacy nice, but privacy is actually necessary for society. And third, privacy is a right and like any right, you can turn it off if you want - and this is exactly what Monero offers, optional transparency.
Something to protect
Let me show some perfectly legitimate reasons for privacy. As an individual, you may not want to be targeted based on your spending habits or your location. Perhaps you don't want your family (or ex-family!) to know with whom or at what you are spending your money, especially some sensitive things. There are many reasons, (not comfortable with it, spoiling relationships, blackmailing/kidnapping-magnets...), you may prefer people to ignore how much you earn. You'd rather avoid "neighbours gossipping that you don't give enough to your church or that you spend too much on porn" (Gregory Maxwell). Your landlord should not be able to scan the blockchain to discover you got a raise and so decide to increase the rent, nor should your employer know which NGO you support. As a company, you don't want competition to know that you signed a contract or to be able to discover trade secrets just by analysing the block chain (customers, supplies purchases, payroll, margins...). For anyone, there is the risk of accidentally stumbling on tainted money (like what happened to this coinbase user). Go explain to a judge that "you didn't know". After all, if anyone can trace the money, this means that you should have traced it too, right? And finally, for the cryptocurrency itself, lack of privacy means giving more power to miners than they are supposed to have. If they can identify via the chain, they may "start to impose blacklists, whitelists, redlists, and other intrusive requirements on transactions. [...] Too much mixing? No "SafeChain approved" tag? Etc. Sorry, your transaction never gets into a block." (smooth, who also explains here why we have a tail emission). Remember: evil bit doesn’t exist. Countless studies have proved that people behave differently when they know they might be watched. Sure, it means they will think twice before committing heinous acts, but it also means they will think twice before acting freely.
The value of privacy
Privacy is not just comfort. Despite all of our rambling about its deliquescence, most of us live in a wealthy First World nation. War-torn countries and totalitarian regimes are places where freedom of press is punishable, sometimes by death, for the journalists but also (and we tend to forget it), for the local informants. When we say we want Monero to be scalable, this also means that those people can use it. We put so much care into making the blockchain technology resilient from technical failures, but make no effort to make it resilient to political and social failures.
Privacy is not black and white. There are some cases when you do want transparency. Your company may need to be audited, and a charity or government may wish to, or even be required to, make its accounts publicly visible. Here a transparent blockchain would be acceptable. But what if you don't want anyone to find out, just a restricted set of persons, like the tax office, the auditors, the shareholders or the charity members? Or, for individuals, what if, as a parent, you would like to monitor what you kids are spending the money you gave them on? You would certainly not want other person to know (this would avoid the drama of children comparing their spendings in the playground, too). In all of these cases, a mandatory transparent blockchain is not a solution. Monero has a mechanism to address these two situations - the viewkey. A viewkey is a simple file that allows someone in his possession a read-only access to the wallet. This will tell you the balance, the deposits and the withdrawal, but still won't give you the origin and the destination of the transaction, so that the rest of the network is not compromised. If you want to audit a transaction, you can ask the viewkey of both parties and you're set. And if complete access to both wallet is too much (if you only need to verify a given transaction), details of a transaction can be revealed via a similar mechanism on a per-transaction basis. So, you can decide the level of access: everyone, someone, no one. What does it mean, on top of additional freedom? This means that since Monero plays fair with everyone, governments wouldn't need to outlaw it, as law enforcement could still be given the tools to investigate illicit transactions (although they'd need to ask for the person's viewkey first, but that's no different than asking for someone's password to reveal incriminating evidence on their computer). It is of particularly importance considering attacking a major crypto is surprisingly easy and within a State's reach (and even more so in the case of a coalition). This is what real privacy is about. Caring for all parties involved. http://i.imgur.com/VjdUetK.png Oh, one more thing: in our blockchain-powered internet of things future (IBM, Szabo], opaque blockchain would help avoiding the pervasive monitoring Snowden revealed to us. You would certainly not want every burglar to know when you are home just by scannng the blockchain, right? Just give the viewkey to selected devices and you’re fine. Privacy matters.
It should be pretty obvious that our glorious benefactors in the U.S. would benefit greatly from CoInvalidation. If it became mandatory in the U.S. it would be as disastrous as everyone is fearing. As far as I can tell, the anonmyizing steps that Luke-jr and coinjoin have suggested will help, but not resolve the issue. There's only three ways to stop this from happening.
We fight tooth and nail to prevent this from happening until Bitcoin is already too strong for it to be a threat. This would mean we would have to delay it for at least 2-3 years. This fighting is already happening(hence the anger directed towards Yufi), but it is unlikely to be successful. If Yufi doesn't do it, someone else will.
We globalize Bitcoin before the Coinvalidation process can take hold. In a truly global economy, having coins locked out of the U.S. would have a fairly small impact on their value, as they would just be spent elsewhere and not need to enter any official U.S. gateways. This means we need a lot of Bitcoin businesses starting up outside the U.S.
We create many many competing coinvalidation services, all with different rules and jurisdictions. So long as these services don't agree and one of them doesn't gain a global / U.S. monopoly, the government will be forced to make difficult or impossible compromises on which one to follow. This would have the desired affect of applying morality in shades of grey as well as regionally. We would need one service that only redlists addresses used by known and verified Bitcoin scammers. Another that only redlists coins that are used by those committing crimes against humanity. Another that only redlists crimes as defined by the chinese government. If we have many competing ones created before the U.S. government gets to define what this means, it'll completely destroy the value of what the U.S. government tries to define.
Just so everyone is clear. I've seen a lot of talk about the potential for redlisting addresses and a lot of people suggesting mixing services. Mixing services don't address the problem of whitelisting addresses, they only address the problem of blacklisting coins. There is a major difference here. It is akin to a discussion about tracking serials on bills vs requiring an ID to open a bank account. Tracking ADDRESSES gives the government a tool to effectively prohibit legitimate business from transacting with an address that is not whitelisted, which effectively forces addresses not whitelisted into a newly created black market. This makes bitcoin far less useful than it is otherwise, and mixing coins does NOT solve the problem. I hope that helps clear things up for some people.
All this talk about tainted coins and redlists got me thinking...
All this talk about tainted coins and redlists got me thinking about DPR's wallet. The coins are still there. I've read that the Feds/Homeland security have "seized" them. But if only DPR knows the private key, they have no control over the coins whatsoever. What if the new DPR starts using the coins or moving them around to other addresses? Will the coins be tainted or only his "seized" address. The answer is we don't know but we do know that the Feds aren't going to forget about roughly $60M of "drug money". The senatoregulatory parties will definitely have this in the back of their mind on Monday. They have to have a way to ensure that those coins aren't recirculated into the network. If they cannot do this, then they are much more likely to TRY to strictly regulate bitcoin so that large criminal enterprises cannot have free reign with their illegally made BTC. If they can find a way to keep the coins or come up with some other solution, then they would be more likely to see BTC as a great new innovation and less of a threat. If this has already been discussed please link me back.
Well, many tell us there is none! Similar to what crainbf said here:
In terms of the risk, it doesn't matter either way. Both running XT or core will be save and if a switch happens ?>there will be plenty of time for core users to switch later. The only reason to switch to XT now is if you want >bigger blocks to happen and to signal that support. I don't think there is really a risk of the network splitting. If XT is above 75% then the remaining 25% have at >least several weeks to switch over and they'll almost certainly will do so.
But, what he and many others are failing to see is that (if XT wins) the lead dev position will change, Bitcoin will become a different project - and that's the dangerous part. That could be detrimental. (Especially dangerous with Mike Hearn in the lead dev position, and with knowledge of his previous proposals for censorship, redlisting, TOR filtering, etc.) So, blocksize increase? Yes. Probably. Debatable. Whatever. In the end, give it time for serious and methodological discussion. But, blocksize increase - not at any cost! And certainly not by breaking Bitcoin's own rules and core values by forcing the alternative chain, introducing checkpoints, or by ignoring the longest Bitcoin blockchain, as proposed by Mike Hearn.
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