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Author Topic: Early speculators' reward  (Read 6844 times)
John Tobey
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May 30, 2011, 05:16:12 PM
 #1

Suppose in 2008, in the middle of the credit crunch and bailout talk, an anonymous crypto expert had publicly offered to cure several of the world's monetary problems with a new currency much like Bitcoin.

Suppose, however, that he/she/they had made this offer contingent on a promise to pay US$10 million in tax money if the plan were to succeed.  Leaving aside the unlikelihood of TPTB allowing such a measure to come to a vote, would you have voted for the tax?  As for me, perhaps yes, $10 million seems about right, given the time and effort needed, plus a risk premium of a few hundred percent.

Now suppose the offer had been for $100 BILLION (1011) rather than $10 million.  I don't know about you, but I would draw the line well below that figure.

It is hard to bring this up without being shouted down as "jealous" and ungrateful for the courage of the "early adopters".  So let us make a distinction between the early adopters who developed code and infrastructure and promoted Bitcoin in the hope of alleviating the world's ills, and early speculators who simply accumulated BTC in the hope that the block chain started by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 would eventually be worth a fortune.  Granted, some individuals may fall into both categories.

When we offer newcomers BTC at today's price (around $8) or suggest that they start mining at current difficulty/price ratios, we implicitly assign a value of $20 million to the first 50,000 blocks, which were solved at very low difficulty (under 0.001% of today's network strength) and have mostly not entered circulation (based on tracking a sample of block generation outputs through theymos' Block Explorer).  Some suspect that the private keys to much of this wealth were destroyed, but we can't know that, and I consider it unlikely.

As the BTC price rises, so does this implied value, until it acquires the character of an "entry tax" payable to the early speculators who hold large sums of (relatively) cheaply acquired BTC.

Does this mean I hate or envy Satoshi or Bitcoin?  No.  I think the world of Satoshi and would not wish to endanger his/her/their life/lives by pumping the value of his/her/their private keys to a ridiculous level.  Do you believe Satoshi's goal was to become filthy rich?  I rather think he wanted to reform a broken system and spare people from its abuses.  If Satoshi and the early speculators make a few tens of million USD out of it, I'll be happy for them.

So, can anything be done?  Yes, as I outlined, with backing from enough miners, one could start a block chain using more or less the same rules as 2009/Nakamoto/BTC but with a much higher initial difficulty and a genesis block based on the then-current BTC block.

Would such an action hurt Bitcoin?  Not at all, if by "Bitcoin" you mean the system Satoshi designed prior to 2009 and helped promote and debug during 2009-2010.  Would it hurt BTC, i.e., the exchange value of today's "bitcoin" (lowercase "b")?  Perhaps yes, if successful.  It would compete against BTC as an alternative currency with similar characteristics but less of an "early speculator tax".  Of course, those early speculators are probably savvy enough to sell some BTC and invest in the new currency if it bids well to outcompete BTC.

Would anyone like to work with me on software changes to facilitate the creation of "child" block chains as I outlined?

Would any miners run such software?  It would continue to build BTC blocks until it detects a signal of support for a child chain, and then it would devote 25% (configurable) of hashing power to the new chain as long as the new chain has at least 5% of BTC's strength.  I believe this kind of chain could coexist with BTC on the same network and even share BTC's blk*.dat files.

Can a change to the best-chain criteria protect against 51% to 90+% attacks without a hard fork?
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Littleshop
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May 30, 2011, 05:32:48 PM
 #2

Is there a thread like this every day?

Too bad all of those 'speculators' got all of that Apple stock early.  Let's try to figure out a way to reward those true Apple fanboys like me without rewarding all of those who simply bought shares and did nothing else.  Maybe I can print my own Apple shares and say they are MORE valuable then real Apple shares.  Maybe you all can help me make this work.

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May 30, 2011, 05:35:46 PM
 #3

That could be fun. Like the videogame stockmarket game one of the galactic games sites runs. Fanboys of different things can vote up the "social importance" or even just "rank on the ratings" of whatever they are a fan of merely by sending bitcoins to a who is the biggest fanboy site or something.

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John Tobey
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May 30, 2011, 05:40:36 PM
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Is there a thread like this every day?

Is there a snarky response to every such thread?  If you want to reward the speculators, go ahead and tip them.  Feel free to ignore any new chains and enjoy your BTC, whatever the market thinks of them.

Can a change to the best-chain criteria protect against 51% to 90+% attacks without a hard fork?
Littleshop
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May 30, 2011, 05:45:21 PM
 #5

Is there a thread like this every day?

Is there a snarky response to every such thread?  If you want to reward the speculators, go ahead and tip them.  Feel free to ignore any new chains and enjoy your BTC, whatever the market thinks of them.


There is no need to try to set up a system to artificially reward anyone.  If early adopters held coin they have been rewarded. You can tip anyone you want such as a latecomer.

John Tobey
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May 30, 2011, 05:52:19 PM
 #6

There is no need to try to set up a system to artificially reward anyone.  If early adopters held coin they have been rewarded.

Exactly!  They have been rewarded handsomely.  For BTC to continue to rise, the market will have to value them more and more.  I think this will hit a wall, or at least hamper Bitcoin's acceptance in a way that would be cured with a currency founded on a stronger block chain.

The market will decide, but only if someone (I'll help!) writes the code and runs their rigs on it.

Can a change to the best-chain criteria protect against 51% to 90+% attacks without a hard fork?
Vladimir
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May 30, 2011, 05:52:25 PM
 #7

When I first figured out bitcoin I thought that it would be great to create a silver currency as answer to bitcoin's gold. This currency would be slightly different but only slightly. (This was mostly because of, "why o why I did I not figure out bitcoin 6 month ago").

In my view it would be better if new currency while suffering from jonny come second disadvantage would have implemented things on technologically and socially superior level and have a fighting chance in the survival battle. This would also create a healthy competition.

Now let's see how in my imagination such currency would look like:

- something along the lines of what OP said.
- BERT for binary protocol
- no freaking floats anywhere in sight
- YAML for human readable part (but well JSON might win this one and I can live with it)
- erlang or nodejs clients able to handle thousands peer connections on decent hardware
- HTTP based protocol, to take advantage of all the HTTP infrastructure (maybe?)
- inflation/emission function made less steep and maximum number of silver coins issued would be higher than bitcoins 21M in proportion similar to proportion of historical price difference gold/silver
- SHA256(WHIRPOOL(SHA512(Skeynes(GOST(WhateverElseGoodHashOutThere( data ))))) instead of bitcoins sha256(sha256( data ))*

I am sure there are more good ideas to be added to this list. We could design such ideal currency and fork it, why not? As long as no stupidity like permainflation is supported this might just be viable. The trick is to counterbalance second comer disadvantage by superior strategy design and implementation.

And while we at that talk to me about proper DNS 2.0 strategy (as opposed to namecoin).

* sha256(sha256( data )) for me is like a red tag... "made by NSA"


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May 30, 2011, 05:54:36 PM
 #8

It is hard to bring this up without being shouted down as "jealous" and ungrateful for the courage of the "early adopters".  So let us make a distinction between the early adopters who developed code and infrastructure and promoted Bitcoin in the hope of alleviating the world's ills, and early speculators who simply accumulated BTC in the hope that the block chain started by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 would eventually be worth a fortune.  Granted, some individuals may fall into both categories.

Just like early adopters, early speculators were key to Bitcoin's success so far.  Without them, the exchange rate and difficulty would have remained low for a much longer time, making Bitcoin more vulnerable.  They also seeded confidence in the value and convertibility of Bitcoin.  

Start your own block chain if you like, but stop pretending that this has anything to do with "fairness".


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John Tobey
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May 30, 2011, 06:03:27 PM
 #9

Now let's see how in my imagination such currency would look like:

- something along the lines of what OP said.
- BERT for binary protocol
- [etc.]


Vladimir, I think a lot of these changes are orthogonal to the establishment of a stronger chain.  Though a chain fork might seem like a good opportunity to implement them, I am afraid we'd have to limit changes to what practically everyone can agree on, which may be none of the above.

(Disclaimer: I am Vladimir's customer.)

Can a change to the best-chain criteria protect against 51% to 90+% attacks without a hard fork?
John Tobey
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May 30, 2011, 06:04:56 PM
 #10

Start your own block chain if you like, but stop pretending that this has anything to do with "fairness".

forever-d,

Thank you for your input.  I will steer away from arguments about what is "fair" and focus on marketability.

Can a change to the best-chain criteria protect against 51% to 90+% attacks without a hard fork?
Hal
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May 30, 2011, 06:28:34 PM
 #11

Any successful replacement of the Bitcoin block chain will forever undermine the credibility of any successor. How is an investor to know that it won't happen again?

Rebooting now may benefit a few thousand early adopters. What happens when hundreds of millions use Bitcoin 2? They'll be just as jealous and envious of you as you are of others. Given the precedent you want to set, how will you argue against yet another reboot?

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John Tobey
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May 30, 2011, 06:41:15 PM
 #12

Any successful replacement of the Bitcoin block chain will forever undermine the credibility of any successor. How is an investor to know that it won't happen again?

Rebooting now may benefit a few thousand early adopters. What happens when hundreds of millions use Bitcoin 2? They'll be just as jealous and envious of you as you are of others. Given the precedent you want to set, how will you argue against yet another reboot?

Perhaps I haven't adequately explained my proposal.  I do not suggest "rebooting" the chain in the sense of persuading everyone to stop working on it.  Maybe "the market" will persuade people to abandon the 2009 chain, but that could happen for any number of reasons beyond competition from a similar currency.  Frankly, I consider even this unlikely.  I don't think anything can drive the value of Nakamoto/2009 BTC to zero in the next decade, and I am not about to short BTC.

If your best counterargument is "united we stand, divided we fall", aren't you at least a bit guilty of hiding the fundamentals from newcomers and non-technical users?

To ME, the value of BTC is running into a limit related to the cost of starting a competing chain.  Therefore, I am less likely to buy Nakamoto/2009 BTC at going prices.  I simply want to find other people who feel the same way.  If there are no such people, I will shrug it off and invest as reason dictates.  If there are many, well, our misgivings are collectively depressing the value of BTC, so wouldn't you like to offer us an alternative in the hope that the Bitcoin concept succeeds?

Can a change to the best-chain criteria protect against 51% to 90+% attacks without a hard fork?
Vladimir
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May 30, 2011, 06:42:48 PM
 #13

Hal, valid point, about recursive envy.

However, there  is space for coca-cola and pepsi, for gold an silver. There might be space for second block chain and if it is good it would significantly limit viability of the third one.

But if it is just str8 fork with the only difference being a new set of early adopters, than I am very sceptical. As a str8 fork I would prefer inflatacoin created. At least we will be able to send all the inflation lovers there  Grin

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unk
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May 30, 2011, 06:50:50 PM
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i did predict that calls for this would increase. indeed, they seem to have mounted sooner than i expected. i wrote in mid-may:

Quote
i avoid making predictions about the speculative value of a bitcoin, but one prediction i can make is that the notion of alternative block chains will be more prominent by the end of the summer.

even as an early adopter myself, i still think there are very good reasons for them even putting aside the reward to other early miners. i have outlined those in the past and get shouted down as 'jealous' each time, though that couldn't be further from the truth, and i would stand to make quite a lot myself if the price of bitcoins in the current block chain rises. i nonetheless think it's better for the technology to see alternative block chains, however, and would be happy to help such efforts.

update for hal: i'm inclined to think that bitcoin's success at this stage should not depend on 'investment', or it will distort many incentives and very likely lead to significant barriers to adoption. but your argument, i think, may also prove too much: the currently prominent bitcoin block chain doesn't forever undermine the value of gold, for example.
John Tobey
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May 30, 2011, 07:02:58 PM
 #15

But if it is just str8 fork with the only difference being a new set of early adopters, than I am very sceptical. As a str8 fork I would prefer inflatacoin created. At least we will be able to send all the inflation lovers there  Grin

The design I have in mind would facilitate creation of chains with different policies.  Of course, there is some advantage to reusability of infrastructure if the policies are similar.

Can a change to the best-chain criteria protect against 51% to 90+% attacks without a hard fork?
John Tobey
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May 30, 2011, 07:03:43 PM
 #16

unk, noted, thank you.

Can a change to the best-chain criteria protect against 51% to 90+% attacks without a hard fork?
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May 30, 2011, 07:41:40 PM
 #17

But if it is just str8 fork with the only difference being a new set of early adopters, than I am very sceptical. As a str8 fork I would prefer inflatacoin created. At least we will be able to send all the inflation lovers there  Grin

The design I have in mind would facilitate creation of chains with different policies.  Of course, there is some advantage to reusability of infrastructure if the policies are similar.


You would really need to add a feature that was very attractive to everyone that could not be easly done to BitCoin for it to do anything.  BitCoin has the 'first mover' advantage in the decentralized currency space.  You really need to have something more then a minor feature to unseat BitCoin.  Just look in the online auction space, lots of others have great systems better then Ebay.  Ebay has the traffic and therefore the users and nobody else comes close. 


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May 30, 2011, 07:51:31 PM
 #18

Warren Buffet calls it moat. For ebay the moat is it's size and domination in large number of regions, but for example in Japan Yahoo auctions rule and ebay is nothing.

Similarly with Bitcoin. there is some moat in form of adoption levels, computational capacity of miners, early adopters who are ready to spend bitcoins to support it etc..., it is not impenetrable but it is getting stronger everyday.

If I was an evil genius planning to install myself as super early adopter of newcoin. I would need some fairly decent capital to get some serious software development going, maybe even implement a few open source clients for bitcoin. Than one day I would spring a well prepared newcoin block chain with some serious mining capacity and well funded marketing effort behind it and make my open source and by now popular client to support both bitcoin and newcoin. Than eventually frogboil bitcoin out if possible at all.

Simple forks IMO are not viable except as reservations for some extreme elements. like inflationastas.

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May 30, 2011, 08:02:49 PM
 #19

Comparing it the value the early adopters get to a tax is wrong. Most importantly it isn't forced on anyone ever, but leaving that aside it's still way different.

Satoshi and early adopters don't get new users money/goods unless they give up some of their coins, if they do that then they won't get that obscene reward you mention. Now on top of that, when ever they do convert their coins to usable wealth, no one is made worse off. Who ever pays for the coins actually gets coins, they aren't paying to be allowed in, they are trading value for value, voluntarily, meaning that they think it's making them better off.

You are more than welcome to try to monetize some other bits, but I think you underestimate the difficulty of doing that (like it's a super easy million bucks, but no one is doing it) and overestimate the cost of value going to early adopters.

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May 30, 2011, 08:40:46 PM
 #20

@Littleshop @Vladimir @FreeMoney,

Thank you for your comments.  Actually, I believe I have a handle on the challenges to the proposed project.  Had Satoshi and the early team sought funding in the venture capital market, I doubt anyone would have given them the time of day.  New chain advocates are in a similar position, though I don't see it as requiring nearly as much development (or marketing) work as has gone into Bitcoin.  Maybe 10% as much of each.  Not a trivial amount, nor a prohibitive one.

No, I would not expect to make "a super easy million bucks".  I would hope and expect (eventually) to found a stronger currency using mostly existing tools, just as Satoshi and the rest built on OpenSSL, TCP/IP, and C++ in addition to Satoshi's insight.  Notice that I said initial difficulty should be on the order of 5% of the BTC chain's as of when the new chain starts.  Part of the project involves miner buy-in, as I described in the linked thread.

I would expect a new chain to remain a junior cousin to 2009/Nakamoto for several months to years until a critical mass of users saw its key advantage.  And, very likely, it would be surpassed by something else started by someone else building on my/our work.  Very likely, nothing would unseat BTC, but a good effort will cement BTC's position and thus advance the community's purported goals.  This would make for a nice consolation prize, in my opinion.

In case it's not clear, I do not advocate a "chain fork" in the sense of a second chain rooted in Satoshi's genesis block but diverging from BTC at some block N.  I am talking about a new genesis block with Block N's hash in its coinbase script as a timestamp, nothing more.  I would survey interested parties for truly compelling changes (Vladimir listed some candidates) but would tend toward conservatism under the theory, "Why mess with success?"

Can a change to the best-chain criteria protect against 51% to 90+% attacks without a hard fork?
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