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Author Topic: Will occasional losses of bitcoin wallets limit available maximum bitcoins?  (Read 13488 times)
JohnDoe
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December 27, 2010, 06:49:01 PM
 #21

Quantum computers will not be able to develop to a threating size without it escaping public knowable.
When it becomes likely that a quantum computer of a attacking size will been developed within the next say - 10 years. A security update will be developed that will make Bitcoin much more difficult to attack.

This update will consist of three parts:
1. Increasing the length of the hashes used for the block chain. (maybe SHA256 => XXX8192)
2. Massively increasing the asymmetrical private/public key length used to secure transactions.
3. Massively increasing the length of a Bitcoin address (the hash of the public part of a key). (maybe the new address will be 1024 + 8 character long)

This security patch will be released well before a quantum computer is developed to a stage that can attack it.  For anyones bitcoins to remain secure, they will need to 'spend' the coins to the new secure addresses.

Since 'lost' coins cannot be 'spent,'  they will on day be collected (and moved to new secure addresses) by somebody who can take the effort to crack the old (insecure) addresses.

Once, quantum computers become common, bitcoin could even use cypto that requires quantum computers to do the calculations, otherwise it would be prohibitory slow.

Thanks a lot for this explanation. I hadn't grasped that Bitcoin could be patched like this so I always had this worry that people in the future would start spending cpu generating collisions rather than blocks. Now I'll be able to sleep well at night Tongue
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December 28, 2010, 01:25:19 PM
 #22

The system at the very least needs a way to liberate lost coins.

Coins that stay dormant for say 100 years are divided up among all current users? Is something like that possible?

It's certainly conceivable that if at some point the community perceives it to be a problem, then a majority of bitcoin clients/miners would be patched such that coins that have been dormant for that long get added in some fair fashion to the transaction fees being collected by the miners, and open clients will move coins to new addresses randomly every few years to ensure that their coins stay active. But I don't think it's anything that needs to be worried about right now.
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December 29, 2010, 02:37:44 AM
 #23

The system at the very least needs a way to liberate lost coins.

Coins that stay dormant for say 100 years are divided up among all current users? Is something like that possible?

It's certainly conceivable that if at some point the community perceives it to be a problem, then a majority of bitcoin clients/miners would be patched such that coins that have been dormant for that long get added in some fair fashion to the transaction fees being collected by the miners, and open clients will move coins to new addresses randomly every few years to ensure that their coins stay active. But I don't think it's anything that needs to be worried about right now.
Sounds like a good solution, the key is how to reintroduce the lost coins back into the system in a fair and democratic manner.

Money has two attributes: media of exchange, and store of value; as long as the system can foster participants' trust and perception of value, fairness, there should be acceptable solutions to this kind of problem.
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December 29, 2010, 03:59:47 AM
 #24

What is the difference between lost coins, and coins that people have been saving for a long time?

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December 29, 2010, 04:24:15 AM
 #25

What is the difference between lost coins, and coins that people have been saving for a long time?


None, it is mearly psychological.

One off NP-Hard.
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December 29, 2010, 05:41:31 AM
 #26

The system at the very least needs a way to liberate lost coins.

Coins that stay dormant for say 100 years are divided up among all current users? Is something like that possible?

It's certainly conceivable that if at some point the community perceives it to be a problem, then a majority of bitcoin clients/miners would be patched such that coins that have been dormant for that long get added in some fair fashion to the transaction fees being collected by the miners, and open clients will move coins to new addresses randomly every few years to ensure that their coins stay active. But I don't think it's anything that needs to be worried about right now.

There is no way to do this that wouldn't break the system, and I'm not even sure that the system could be broken in this manner anyway. If a wallet.dat file is destroyed, and transactions orphaned, there is no way to use those coins ever again.

Well, not without a forced address collision, but I'm presuming that we would wish to spend those coins before the sun burns out.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 29, 2010, 08:24:41 AM
 #27

Actually, now that I've had time to think about this, there is already an economically appropriate return mechanism for lost coins--once the scale of computing has changed proportionally such that the cost of finding lost bitcoins is less than their value, they will be returned to circulation by the market--after a decent period of time, typically.  This never becomes a problem for non-lost coins as long as coin "savers" remember to transfer their coins to a new address every time the level of encryption is upgraded on bitcoin.   Is there any particular plan in place for the overall curve on which bitcoin public keys will be upgraded, or is that expected to be based on market demand as well?

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December 29, 2010, 09:00:40 AM
 #28

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Sounds like a good solution, the key is how to reintroduce the lost coins back into the system in a fair and democratic manner.

Maybe I am missing something, but what exactly is the point of reintroducing lost coins?

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December 29, 2010, 09:56:14 AM
 #29

The system at the very least needs a way to liberate lost coins.
The system does not need to liberate lost coins.

First, there's no solution because there's no way to know they're actually lost. A bank could be holding some coins as collateral for hundreds of years and never touch them.

Secondly, there is no reason to do it. It just doesn't matter whether coins get lost. The price of the coins will naturally rise as the market realizes there are fewer coins that will "budge" to higher demand.

Thirdly, the U.S. likewise does not care about lost coins. If a federal reserve note (dollar bill) get mutilated or destroyed beyond recognition, the government never does anything to redistribute that lost dollar.
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December 29, 2010, 11:33:20 AM
 #30

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Thirdly, the U.S. likewise does not care about lost coins.
The U.S. does not care about lost coins because it introduces new coins at a rate sufficient to compensate.

The actual quantity of paper bills and metal coins in circulation is market driven.

If all of us decide to cut up our credit cards, withdraw our savings from the banks in cash, and pay cash for everything, then they just print more bills and mint more coins.

If a month later, we reverse our decision and return a huge mountain of paper and coin to banks for deposit, they burn the bills and melt down the coins or put them aside out of circulation.

Bitcoin needs to decide whether it is an alternative medium of exchange, or an alternative long term store of wealth.

It is way too young and fragile to provide a reliable long term store of wealth; so it necessarily will raise and fall on its suitability as a medium of exchange.

A suitable medium of exchange needs to hold its value relatively stable over the short term.  If the market price of some good or service, specified in some currency unit, rises or falls noticeably, it should mostly be because of something to do with that good or service, not with a recent surplus or shortage of the currency unit, relative to the demand for that currency by the current economic activity.

As FOFOA notes in http://fofoa.blogspot.com/2010/12/windmills-paper-tigers-straw-men-and.html :
Quote
the money supply needs to be able to react to the demand on money freely.

One of the essential and defining properties of bitcoin is that it not so react.  After an initial buildup, its supply is permanently capped and in the long run, declining at a gradual and slow rate, regardless of overall economic activity.  This is a property perhaps suitable to a long term store of wealth, not a medium of exchange.

I don't think this works.


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December 29, 2010, 12:06:46 PM
 #31

The bitcoin is divisible, easily to 8 places and it is possible to patch it to do more later on. You don't need higher and higher amounts, but you may need more and more units, we have that.

FOFOA is great, I wonder when he'll write about bitcoin.

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December 29, 2010, 12:57:32 PM
 #32

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Thirdly, the U.S. likewise does not care about lost coins.
The U.S. does not care about lost coins because it introduces new coins at a rate sufficient to compensate.

The actual quantity of paper bills and metal coins in circulation is market driven.

If all of us decide to cut up our credit cards, withdraw our savings from the banks in cash, and pay cash for everything, then they just print more bills and mint more coins.

If a month later, we reverse our decision and return a huge mountain of paper and coin to banks for deposit, they burn the bills and melt down the coins or put them aside out of circulation.


Do you really believe this?

Quote

Bitcoin needs to decide whether it is an alternative medium of exchange, or an alternative long term store of wealth.


Bitcoin is a medium of exchange first, but if some among us choose to save in it, that is their business.  There is no conflict there.

Quote
It is way too young and fragile to provide a reliable long term store of wealth; so it necessarily will raise and fall on its suitability as a medium of exchange.

A suitable medium of exchange needs to hold its value relatively stable over the short term.  If the market price of some good or service, specified in some currency unit, rises or falls noticeably, it should mostly be because of something to do with that good or service, not with a recent surplus or shortage of the currency unit, relative to the demand for that currency by the current economic activity.


Relative to what?  The value of the US dollar floats also, and is quite volatile considering it's base economic size.  Bitcoin's relative value will settle down once the inflation rate and adoption rate mature in a few more years.

Quote
As FOFOA notes in http://fofoa.blogspot.com/2010/12/windmills-paper-tigers-straw-men-and.html :
Quote
the money supply needs to be able to react to the demand on money freely.


There is more than one way to accomplish this end.

Quote
One of the essential and defining properties of bitcoin is that it not so react.  After an initial buildup, its supply is permanently capped and in the long run, declining at a gradual and slow rate, regardless of overall economic activity.  This is a property perhaps suitable to a long term store of wealth, not a medium of exchange.

I don't think this works.

Don't use it.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 29, 2010, 06:23:03 PM
 #33

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Don't use it.
Yup.
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December 30, 2010, 12:23:34 AM
 #34

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Sounds like a good solution, the key is how to reintroduce the lost coins back into the system in a fair and democratic manner.

Maybe I am missing something, but what exactly is the point of reintroducing lost coins?

Let's say bitcoin has been widely adopted, the wallet.dat containing Bill Gate's net worth crashed (because his misplaced faith in Windows) and there's no way to recover the file; his foundation need this money to pay 10 million children's medical bill -- in another word, there's catastrophic/extraordinary consequence if the money cannot be recovered -- should there be a mechanism to deal with this kind of situations?
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December 30, 2010, 12:35:55 AM
 #35

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Sounds like a good solution, the key is how to reintroduce the lost coins back into the system in a fair and democratic manner.

Maybe I am missing something, but what exactly is the point of reintroducing lost coins?

Let's say bitcoin has been widely adopted, the wallet.dat containing Bill Gate's net worth crashed (because his misplaced faith in Windows) and there's no way to recover the file; his foundation need this money to pay 10 million children's medical bill -- in another word, there's catastrophic/extraordinary consequence if the money cannot be recovered -- should there be a mechanism to deal with this kind of situations?


or like the movie Gold Finger, some organized crime purposely steals and destroys (loses) all the bitcoin stored in Fort Knox; all the sudden, their stash of bitcoins becomes much more valuable. This will be much more feasible than the plot in the movie.
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December 30, 2010, 12:43:33 AM
 #36


Let's say bitcoin has been widely adopted, the wallet.dat containing Bill Gate's net worth crashed (because his misplaced faith in Windows) and there's no way to recover the file; his foundation need this money to pay 10 million children's medical bill -- in another word, there's catastrophic/extraordinary consequence if the money cannot be recovered -- should there be a mechanism to deal with this kind of situations?


It's called backing up and encrypting it.

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December 30, 2010, 01:36:58 AM
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Let's say bitcoin has been widely adopted, the wallet.dat containing Bill Gate's net worth crashed (because his misplaced faith in Windows) and there's no way to recover the file; his foundation need this money to pay 10 million children's medical bill -- in another word, there's catastrophic/extraordinary consequence if the money cannot be recovered -- should there be a mechanism to deal with this kind of situations?


It's called backing up and encrypting it.
sorry but the dumb operator has been backing up the wrong file ... a low probability event,  just wondering what if it really happens.
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December 30, 2010, 02:24:55 AM
 #38


Let's say bitcoin has been widely adopted, the wallet.dat containing Bill Gate's net worth crashed (because his misplaced faith in Windows) and there's no way to recover the file; his foundation need this money to pay 10 million children's medical bill -- in another word, there's catastrophic/extraordinary consequence if the money cannot be recovered -- should there be a mechanism to deal with this kind of situations?


It's called backing up and encrypting it.
sorry but the dumb operator has been backing up the wrong file ... a low probability event,  just wondering what if it really happens.

Bill Gates would no longer be in the top ten most rich people list.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 30, 2010, 02:39:52 AM
 #39


Let's say bitcoin has been widely adopted, the wallet.dat containing Bill Gate's net worth crashed (because his misplaced faith in Windows) and there's no way to recover the file; his foundation need this money to pay 10 million children's medical bill -- in another word, there's catastrophic/extraordinary consequence if the money cannot be recovered -- should there be a mechanism to deal with this kind of situations?


It's called backing up and encrypting it.

To add what kiba is saying, I would also suggest that (out of fear of assassination) Bill could encrypt his wallet with multiple keys such that his backed-up wallet could be decrypting with the combined requirements of (1) a cryptographic confirmation code for Bill's death certificate issued by his specified hospital/DRO/court/insurance provider, (2) one or more keys (depending on the specific terms of his particular will) of Bill's heirs, (3) Bill's lawyer.

Or for this case described above, I would think Bill's 10 million donation would be put in some sortof escrow, whereby there would be specific mechanisms (think *smart contracts*) where the money could be dispersed automatically in monthly .1 million increments.  No need to keep a human around, right?  Cut out the points of failure from dumb human operators.

sorry but the dumb operator has been backing up the wrong file ... a low probability event,  just wondering what if it really happens.

Sorry, but a dumb government operator just pressed the red 'nuke' button accidentally.

Sorry, but a dumb government person just lost the physical key to the US Bullion Depository.

Ok, but seriously, we can do a thought experiment.  If some rich dude's gold stock pile suddenly disappears from the face of this earth (by some black hole or anti-matter), then what happens?  Well...obviously that rich dude wouldn't be able to spend as much, so the overall aggregate demand curve for society would likely decrease by a small amount.  This would cause the equilibrium supply-demand price point to drop a very small amount for all goods in society that that rich dude would have demanded.

"We will not find a solution to political problems in cryptography, but we can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years.

Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled networks, but pure P2P networks are holding their own."
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December 30, 2010, 05:04:50 AM
 #40

Bill Gates would no longer be in the top ten most rich people list.
that should be fine if it's a result of the owner's fault, under other circumstances, if he's a victim of a crime (theft, sabotage, etc), most people will probably think not having a lost-coin recovery mechanism is a flaw.
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