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.